CYRIL SCOTT COMPOSER, POET AND PHILOSOPHER A. EAGLEFIELD HULL LIBRARY OF MUSIC AND MUSICIANS EDITED BY A. EAGLEFIELD HULL MUS. DOC. (OXON.) CYRIL SCOTT UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME LIBRARY OF MUSIC AND MUSICIANS EDITED BY A. EAGLEFIELD HULL, Mus. Doc. (Oxon.) Crown 8vo. Occasionally Illustrated. HANDEL. By ROMAIN HOLLAND. BEETHOVEN. By ROMAIN ROLLAND. THE EARLIER FRENCH MUSICIANS (1632-1834). By MARY HARGRAVE. A GREAT RUSSIAN TONE POET : SCRIABIN. By DR. EAGLEFIELD HULL. FRENCH MUSIC OF TO-DAY. By G. JEAN-AUBRY. MUSORGSKY. By M. D. CALVOCORESSI. BACH : HIS LIFE AND WORKS. By DR. EAGLEFIELD HULL. KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & Co., LTD. Broadway House, 68-74 Carter Lane, London, E.G. Photo, by A. Z. Cabin CYRIL SCOTT 1916 CYRIL SCOTT Composer, Poet and Philosopher BY A. EAGLEFIELD HULL MUS. DOC. (OX ON.) With numerous Musical and other Illustrations Second Edition ft < LONDON KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER IQIQ FACULTY OF MUSIC 10,048 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO V- '/ \' A - lV( - '<&%$ 410 806612 CONTENTS CHAPTER PACK I INTRODUCTOKY 3 II THE LIFE 11 III THE MAN HIMSELF 27 IV ORCHESTRAL AND CHORAL WORKS 39 V CHAMBER Music 59 VI PIANO WORKS 71 VII THE LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 91 VIII THE SONGS - 103 IX THE VIOLIN WORKS - 115 X His TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 125 XI THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 147 XII CONCLUSION -------- 169 APPENDICES I LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS - - 183 II LITERARY WORKS 199 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS PAQE PHOTOGRAPH (by Alwyn Langdon Coburn) Frontispiece FACSIMILE OF CYRIL SCOTT'S HANDWRITING, 1916 (Rough Sketch of an unpublished work) - 55 EXAMPLE OF ORCHESTRATION (From the Pianoforte Concerto) - - - 142-3 INTRODUCTORY CYRIL SCOTT CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY THE dominant feature of Cyril Scott's music is its originality, that is to say, its modernity. He is an innovator. We hear so much of Modernism nowadays, and like most of the other art-terms commonly bandied about, it seems to have no very precise meaning. To say that a musician is a Modernist is about as enlightening as to say he is an Impressionist. All men worthy of the name are modernists, all musical composers cannot be anything else but impres- sionists. Modernism is nothing more than innovation. Further, Ultra-modernism, if any- thing, should express merely the degree of the orientation of the artist's outlook towards the future ; whereas it is often applied to artists who are thought to have lost all touch with 3 4 CYRIL SCOTT their age. The word also is not infrequently used derisively by those critics who sprawl about with such vague catch-words as Neo- Impressionism, Symbolism and Fauvism. The term Modernist then should, rightly speaking, be given only to the man who is progressive in idea and in style. New wine cannot safely be put into old wineskins ; and so it has come about that music has effloresced into innumerable styles. Some composers, like Debussy, create a new harmonic system ; others, like Scriabin, in- vent a new way of using harmony ; others (less successful), like Rimmington and Edison, are seeking closer analogies between sound and col- our. Mysticism has laid its hold on music as well as on painting and literature. D'Ergo, the Belgian theorist, calls Acoustic Science to the help of music, just as Seurat and Signac have utilised the theories of scientific chromati- cism in their pictures. Nevertheless music is most valuable when it is used in its purest mode, and it is found only at its highest powers in instru- mental forms. In these days of analytical science and material aims, it is refreshing to have to do with so ideal an art, one which resists a surgeon- like dissection just as much as it does a solution by chemical process. For music is entirely a thing of the spirit, and when Cyril Scott asserts INTRODUCTORY 5 that " if a man is not musical he cannot be very spiritual," he is in accord with no less a mind than Shakespeare's. Given perfect sincerity, a man's music is the key to his character, the reflection of his soul ; it gives the most reliable index to the man who composes it, and also to the man who interprets it. In studying Cyril Scott's music we shall find there the key to his richly-endowed personality, a personality modern, intuitive, sensitive, com- plex, unified and sincere. If cornered and compelled to classify himself, I believe he would call himself a Romantic, for I have read the exceedingly lucid chapter in his Philosophy of Modernism 1 dividing the whole field of art into three camps ; Classicism, Ro- manticism and Futurism. The latter school he rightly prefers to call Monsterism. As the Classicist adhering blindly to tradition and con- vention regards even the obvious as a virtue, the Romanticist aims at the creation of a new style, always remembering the limits imposed by the canons of beauty and art. The Futurist struggling to be new at all costs, and without limits, is by that very fact imposing on himself a convention as shackling as the traditional one of the Classicist. 1 The Philosophy of Modernism in its Connection with Music. (Kegan Paul). 6 CYRIL SCOTT To use Cyril Scott's own simile from the same book, " the Classicist is like a pedestrian who em- barks on a walking tour with the firm intention of keeping entirely to the roads ; the Futurist is like a man w r ho starts with the opposite intention of keeping entirely off the roads ; thus both these pedestrians are the slaves of their respective in- tentions, and only the man who starts out with a perfect freedom of choice, to follow or leave the road whenever he thinks fit, may be truly regard- ed as unbound by fetters. And this man, ad- justed to the plane of art, is the true Roman- ticist." Cyril Scott has brought the " sense of new- ness " into the art of music afresh. This sense is as difficult to define 1 as the sense of sweetness would be to the man who has never tasted sugar ; or as the song of the nightingale to one who has never heard this true Romanticist amongst the song-birds. Such a composer will be open to be called a poseur; but, as he says, the true poseur is rather the so- called Classicist, who regards dissimilitude as bad taste, whilst the Romanticist scorns simili- tude as objectionable, a thing to be avoided at all costs. l Scott defined it once as " merely the intensified consciousness of such weakness and tedium as arises from repetition and imitation." INTRODUCTORY 7 " That is too obvious," he remarked once when I suggested some orchestral scoring to him. On another occasion, when at the organ, his own discords, which are too keen for many people, sounded " too sweet and cloying" to him. I do not promise that everything I am going to say in this book will be agreeable to all, al- though I shall avoid as far as possible any parti pris. Great admirer as I am of most of Scott's music, and also of the man himself, I do not like all his music, nor the remainder of it equally well, any more than I agree unreservedly with many of his clever pungent sayings. I feel certain, however, that a wider knowledge of his music, and no less of his many novel views, will be advantageous to all interested in art. Where- as new views, new thoughts, and indeed anything savouring of change, will always be distasteful to some, we cannot stop the onward march of things any more than the leopard can change his spots. To the conservatives I would suggest that going forward into the future, with one's gaze fixed on the past, is as foolish a proceeding as for a soldier to go into action with his back to the foe. At the best it is not the sign of a fine spirit, nor will he get the first glimpse of such glories as the future may hold. THE LIFE CHAPTER II THE LIFE AT the time of writing this chapter, Cyril Scott, at my request, has come on a visit, in order to play me those particular works of his which it were otherwise difficult to hear. As he sits in my study, composing some Finger Exercises 1 with an amazing celerity, whilst I talk to him inconsequently about almost every sub- ject under the sun, I marvel at the facility which enables him to write down strangely novel pro- gressions with such an absolute sureness of effect. Last night I was spellbound at the nonchalant ease with which he played through his superb Piano Concerto from the full score MS., rippling along (as I flung the pages over almost continu- ously) with truly astonishing gifts of technique, touch and reading ; whistling the while flute and violin melodies, and vocalizing horn parts in a peculiar nasal tone, like horn notes forced l Since published by Messrs. Elkin & Co. 31 12 CYRIL SCOTT through mutes. Where and how did he attain such tremendous powers? Cyril Scott was born on September 27th, 1879, at Oxton (Cheshire). He commenced to play by ear at the age of two years and a half. Even in those early days, he could pick up any tune or hymn he heard, and could also improvise ; though it was not until the age of seven that he began to write things down, having received some instruction in musical no- tation from his governess. He was an extreme- ly nervous and sensitive child, and was so ill at one time with some nervous affection that he remained in the house for six months on end. Strangely enough, music of a certain kind his mother's singing, and organ music nearly al- ways reduced him to tears. This was particu- larly the case when he was taken to church. Cyril Scott attributes his musical gifts to his mother, Mary Scott, who, he says, was quite a brilliant amateur performer in her day. She even possessed the creative faculty to some degree and wrote one or two waltzes. His father, Henry Scott, on the other hand is a Greek scholar with no special taste for music. He was possessed even at one time with the idea that music was not likely ever to prove a suitable or lucrative profession for his son. Seeing, how- THE LIFE 13 ever, that Cyril was so passionately set on be- coming a musician, he very wisely and generous- ly allowed him to go to Germany at the age of twelve, where, though under age, the Hoch Kon- servatorium at Frankfort-on-Maine took him in. The young boy was placed with a family in that town, and combined both music and general edu- cation for eighteen months. In Frankfort a friendship was begun with Mr. T. Holland- Smith (now master of music and modern lan- guages in Durham), then some twenty-four years of age, and who was a student at the Konserva- torium. He took a great interest in young Scott, and helped to make his life happy in every possible way, by taking him on excursions and to concerts and operas, besides encouraging him greatly in his musical studies. Needless to say, for so young a boy to find such a companion of that type was indeed a piece of good fortune. He remembers one day when they were talking about composition, that Holland-Smith said to him, "In order to be a great composer a man must invent a style." That remark stuck in Scott's memory, and he made up his mind that he would try to carry out the con- ditions embodied in the phrase. This friendship has extended over twenty-three years now r . I understand that the music of Cyril Scott is a 14 CYRIL SCOTT great feature of Durham musical education, and thus Mr. Holland-Smith has done him the ser- vice of making propaganda for him. On his return to England, Scott was placed with a tutor, Mr. C. H. Jeaffreson, M.A., of Liverpool (a brother of Rosa Newmarch), a versatile man who presented education in an interesting light. Young Scott enjoyed his lessons with him in a way, he feels, he could never have done at school. Besides which, the boy had a curious loathing of hearing anybody being scolded, and was so sensitive in the matter that his parents recognised that school-life would be torture to him ; apart from the fact that after his Frankfort experiences, it would be difficult to adjust him in any school- class. Music, however, was not neglected dur- ing this period, and Cyril Scott studied piano- forte with the late Steudner-Welsing, a Vien- nese, who lived for some years in Liverpool. Dur- ing that time, the youth crossed each day in the ferry-boat between Birkenhead and Liverpool (Oxton, his birth-place, being a suburb of Birk- enhead), and was noticed on his way to his tutor by Mr. Hans Luthy, a gentleman of Swiss origin, while walking each day to his office. Seeing him one evening at a party given by Mrs. Tom Fletcher, a leader in the Liverpool THE LIFE 15 musical world, Mr. Luthy contrived to sit next to him ; and thus began a friendship which proved to be of great value. Both Mr. Luthy and his wife were people of great culture, musical and otherwise, and took young Scott into the bosom of their family, as the phrase goes, giving him the greatest possible encouragement. Very numerous were the times he stayed in their hos- pitable home. Mr. Luthy put books in his way, and encouraged a course of reading in science, philosophy and aesthetics, which proved of the greatest value to the composer in after-life. Scott feels he owes to this gentleman a debt of gratitude which it will be impossible to repay. It was at this time that the young musician found it hard to make up his mind whether to become a pianist, and concentrate all his ener- gies in that direction, or to choose the steeper path of becoming a composer. There was some talk about his going to Vienna to study with Paderewski's master, Letchetizsky, but finally the love of composition gained the day, and he decided, at the age of sixteen and a half, to return to Frankfort to study with Ivan Knorr, who was a truly great master of harmony, counterpoint and composition. 10 CYRIL SCOTT A few words about Knorr may prove instruc- tive. Although Ivan Knorr was born in Mewe, near the Polish frontier, on January 3, 1853, yet he spent a large part of his life in Russia. He was of a distinctly Russian appearance, had Rus- sian sympathies (musical and otherwise), and married a Russian. Indeed, from the age of three, until he entered the Leipsic Conserva- toire in 1869 to study under Reinecke, he lived amongst the Russian people, returning to them in 1874 as teacher of music at Khar- koff ; so if the greatest part of his life were not spent out of Germany, yet at any rate the most impressionable part was ; a fact which mani- fests itself in his music, as we shall see later. In 1883 Knorr became Professor of Har- mony, Counterpoint and Composition at the Hoch Konservatorium at Frankfort-on-Maine, where he remained until his death, becoming Director at the retirement of Dr. Bernard Scholz some eight or nine years ago. " You must learn the rules," he would say to his pupils, " so that you may know how to break them later on." This attitude in a teacher of composition is almost without parallel, and shows he was not a Classicist, as most celebrated teachers have been, but a true Romanticist. Knorr was greater as a teacher than as a composer, THE LIFE 17 though had he concentrated more of his energies on composition, this might have been otherwise ; for in every phase of his creative talent there is an undeniable charm. He was much influ- enced by the Russian spirit, and notably by Tchaikovsky, for whom he entertained a great admiration. Knorr was, in fact, a personal friend of the Russian composer and wrote a book on his genius, which is a masterpiece of poetic language, free from that German heaviness so often to be found in books of the kind. Ivan Knorr died in 1916. He numbered amongst his pupils several British composers Percy Grainger, Roger Quilter, Norman O'Neill, Bal- four Gardiner, Leonard Berwick and F. S. Kelly. Of Knorr, Cyril Scott can never speak gratefully enough ; for though putting him through the rules, he encouraged originality in a sense most composition pedagogues fail to grasp. 1 It was at this time that Cyril Scott met many musical affinities ; Percy Grainger, Roger Quilter and Norman O'Neill were among his fellow- students. But the man who exercised the great- est aesthetic influence on him was the German poet, Stefan George, whom he met in his l From an article on Ivan Knorr by Cyril Scott in the Monthly Musical Record. 18 CYRIL SCOTT eighteenth year, and who made of him, so he puts it, an artist and not merely a musician. He proved to be the greatest personality Scott has encountered a poet of true genius with a face of the Dante type. Moreover, this poet developed in Cyril Scott a passionate love of poetry and taught him much respect- ing the technique of that art. Through him, he became first acquainted with the verses of Ernest Dowson which have exercised so great an influence on Scott's musical style of song- writing. It was also through Stefan George that his First Symphony was performed at Darmstadt by the Dutch conductor Willem de Haan. Towards his twentieth year, Scott left Frank- fort and went back to Liverpool, having com- posed his Symphony and one or two chamber- music works now r destroyed. There he gave a piano recital, and took up his residence for some years, composing and giving a few lessons. Here again he contracted another very import- ant friendship. The French poet, Charles Bonnier, w r as at the time Professor of French Literature at the University of Liverpool. Having met, the two finally took a house to- gether, although Bonnier was a man much older than Scott. He had been a great friend of Mallarme and was thoroughly imbued with that THE LIFE l'J school of French poetry, as well as being a pas- sionate lover of music. This noble and unselfish man, as Scott designates him, was also a philoso- pher and socialist, and their sojourn together was one of great happiness and profit for the young composer, for he was thus saturated with an at- mosphere of poetry and philosophy. One day Scott was anxious to get a translation of some German verses which he had set to music, and Bonnier remarked to him, "Why don't you translate them yourself? ' And so the attempt was made ; and to his surprise he found he could rhyme quite easily. This incident awakened in him the poetic faculty, and from that time to this, whenever tired of writing music he has turned to poetry, which interests and delights him not a whit less than music. He regards it as another form of music, and hazards the opinion that the poetry of a musician must always have a distinctive flavour about it. It is curious that so few musicians have been poets ; rather have painting and poetry gone hand in hand hitherto. It was at about the age of twenty-one that Cyril Scott began writing verse. At that period Scott wrote the Heroic Suite for orchestra. Hans Richter was much taken with it and produced it in both Manchester and Liverpool. This Suite, however, Scott came 20 CYRIL SCOTT to regard later on as an immature work and no longer permits a performance of it. At that time he went over to Germany to hear his Symphony at Darmstadt, where it was received with loud applause mingled with hisses. His overture to Pelleas and Melisande was per- formed in Frankfort shortly afterwards. It is strange how strongly this play of Maeterlinck has stirred musicians to expression. Schonberg, Debussy, Loeffler and others have also set the subject to music. Scott stayed some months in Frankfort and then visited Berlin for the first time, being introduced by his friend Stefan George to a literary circle there. As the result of this visit he made the acquaintance of a great painter and stained-glass window designer, Mel- chior Lechter, 1 a remarkable mystic as well as artist, another who made a great impression on Scott, and, though much older, became a lasting friend. On his return to England, Cyril Scott com- posed the Pianoforte Quartet which Kreisler and others played at a Broad wood Concert in St. James' Hall. This work helped to make him known better than any other music which he had so far composed. Messrs. Boosey & Co. then l Melchior Lechter was born in the sixties. His paintings are of a most ideal and spiritual type. THE LIFE 21 began to publish his songs and also the Two Pierrot Pieces for Piano which became fairly popular, though he owed his first publication to Mr. Robin Legge (now the Musical Editor of the "Daily Telegraph"). He it was who in- duced Forsyth to produce a series of little piano- forte pieces. These were, however, but "nib- blings " in the publishing line, and he only found his most enterprising publisher when his friend, Miss Evelyn Suart, the pianist, took up his piano works and played them frequently, and intro- duced him to Mr. W. A. Elkin, of Elkin & Co. This far-sighted and gifted publisher made a con- tract with him, and became the sole publisher of his songs, and, for some years, of his piano pieces as well. At this time Scott was also writing his Second Symphony, \vhich Sir Henry J. Wood performed at the "Promenades," where it was extremely well received, though (for reasons difficult to divine) it has not been given again, in spite of many requests in the papers for fur- ther hearings of it. A close reading of Science and Philosophy had continued all these years, and at the age of twenty-five, Scott came into contact with Oc- cultism and Eastern Mysticism, a matter which changed the whole tenor of his inner life, and this new interest made a great impression on his 22 CYRIL SCOTT musical tendencies. Under the inspiration of Mysticism, he wrote Lotus-land, Sphinx, Two Chinese Songs, and other pieces of a like nature, and he also began to get rid of " key-tonality ' as it is usually understood ; finding it a distinct limitation, and preferring to write in what is more like the "chromatic scale" than any dia- tonic one. This led him on to another dis- covery, that regular rhythm was also a limita- tion ; and in his twenty-eighth year he wrote his first work in this new style the Sonata for Vio- lin and Piano (which Schott & Co., 1 of Mainz, published). Following the Violin Sonata, he wrote in the same non-tonal, free rhythmic style, the Piano- forte Sonata, and then the Second Suite, after which came The Jungle Book, Poems, Egypt, etc. ; also some lighter pieces for violin, the latest and best of which are the Two Sonnets. During these years, however, he did not con- fine his efforts to songs and smaller pieces, but wrote a Rhapsody and also the Aubade for Or- chestra, both being written in the newer style. The Aubade was (with some difficulty respecting rehearsals) pei formed in Darmstadt, Dresden and Berlin. He also composed an Overture to l This firm made a contract with him later on for all his violin works. THE LIFE 28 Princess Maleine, with chorus a work which was given with great success in Vienna. There was also an Arabesque which he conducted in Birmingham. As to chamber works, he had reworked an old String Quartet written in his twenty-sixth year, and this was performed a good deal by the Rebner Quartet party in Ger- many, the Piano Sonata being played by Moekle at a number of German towns about the same year, 1905. So that by this time Cyril Scott was beginning to be pretty well known on the Continent. Of his first two Symphonies, No. 1 was destroyed and No. 2 became the Three Symphonic Dances, one of which he conducted at a Balfour-Gardiner Concert in the Queen's Hall. About his thirty-first year he embarked on a large choral work, Nativity Hymn (words by Richard Crawshaw), preceded by a Christmas Overture, a work which was to have been per- formed in Vienna. This he completed three years later, but owing to the war, the score and parts are either stranded in Germany or mis- laid elsewhere. After this he wrote the Two Passacaglias on Irish themes for Orchestra, which were performed by Beecham at the Phil- harmonic Concerts. Cyril Scott regards these two works, the Nativity Hymn and the Passacaglias, as his most effective orchestral writings. His 24 CYRIL SCOTT next work was the Pianoforte Quintet (per- formed at one of his own Concerts at Bechstein Hall), and finally came the Pianoforte Concerto which he played at the British Festival last spring and which reaped a great public success. Scott's reputation on the Continent is of quite a different order from his general recognition in England. In this country he is largely regarded as a composer of songs and piano pieces, whilst abroad his songs are almost unknown, and he is judged exclusively by his more serious works. For one thing, it is so difficult to obtain the ade- quate number of rehearsals in England for works unless they are easy ; and certainly the works of Cyril Scott can hardly be so described. Yet it is a very discouraging feature about British music that even when a large work has reaped a great success in England, it is rarely heard again. Why is this? THE MAN HIMSELF CHAPTER III THE MAN HIMSELF LET me attempt some estimate of the man him- self. First, the outer man. He is of medium height and of a spareness bordering on the fra- gile. His head is small some think this is a never-failing sign of the spiritual man ; his face contains at times the benign sadness of enlight- ened middle-age; at others, it is radiant with youth, and sometimes is even lit with a spark of what can only be called "impishness." The features are finely cut, and (helped by his habit of always wearing a stock tie) suggest a Georgian type, though he is clean shaven and does not allow himself that affected revival of the side- whiskers. His hands are small and beautifully shaped, apparently quite inadequate in size and strength to the prodigious effect which they can produce on the keyboard. That Cyril Scott's interests are not those of 27 28 CYRIL SCOTT the average man, goes without saying. His con- ception of his art places him at once above banali- ties ; but even beyond this, he has obtained by years of study, coupled with marvellous intuitive faculties, a knowledge of the superphysical realms which causes him to stand aloof from the ordinary tempestuous life of the artist. His life and work both show a certain poise a detach- ment from the frets and worries of this world, and a deeper insight and understanding of the fuller life of the soul. His inspiration comes from higher spiritual sources than that of the man who is flung from one earthly sensation to another, tossed by his emotions, as by the waves of a rough sea. It has been said by one who knows him well that Cyril Scott is a hundred years in advance of his age. Time alone can prove this ; but inasmuch as one hopes for the development of man on the lines of greater sanity, kindness, and unselfish love, his outlook would seem to form a pattern for a more perfect type. His kindness and gen- erosity are unending, and always accompanied by the tact that comes from understanding and sympathy. He has been called a poseur by a few acquaintances whose imagination cannot in- clude the possibility of an order of mind so differ- ent from their own. And yet never was man more utterly natural. His directness is some- THE MAN HIMSELF 29 times disconcerting to those accustomed to a cotton-wool wrapping of conventionality in their views of men, music and things. Perhaps this inclination to regard him as a poseur also arises from his surroundings, for he chooses to live in what cannot be called otherwise than a distinctly ecclesiastical atmosphere. Nor does he stop short at Gothic and ascetic furniture enhanced by beautiful stained-glass windows, designed by Burne- Jones and presented to him by a valued friend, but candidly avows his fondness for the smell of incense, which he is constantly burning. "I like the ecclesiastical atmo- sphere," he remarks, "because in it I feel as if I might be anywhere ; in Italy, in the country, or in some remote region, in a past generation even." To call a man a poseur then, because he elects to surround himself with those forms of beauty which especially appeal to him and assist him in his work, is merely shortsighted. Much more could be said of his interesting personality, but the lover of his music and of his poetry will find in his works the best exposition of this richly-endowed nature. My personal acquaintance with Cyril Scott dates back hardly longer than eighteen months, and my friendship with him not more than the same number of weeks. It was only after I had 30 CYRIL SCOTT conceived the idea of a book on his music (the more important part of which seemed to me very inadequately known) that I really got to know the man, and only then little by little as the book progressed. The fulfilment of my re- quest that he should visit me, gave me the oppor- tunity for a much better knowledge of him. So it will be seen that my admiration was not the result of a violent attachment at first sight, but is a much more natural growth. No other way can I imagine possible with such a personality as Scott ; for to my mind there is a distinct reserve about him, which I for one, at any rate, was loth to put down to conceit. This is not one of his vices. Talking " small talk " to comparative strangers he finds of almost insur- mountable difficulty. On the other hand, he has not the smallest compunction in making new friends, and these, by no means, need be musical. Indeed, as a rule, musical conversation bores him intensely, and he has it against the ordinary mu- sician that his outlook is far too limited, and that he is much too fond of " talking shop." Scott's most absorbing interest in life is transcendental philosophy ; and discussing occult lore and kin- dred subjects with a friend of like tastes is one of his greatest pleasures : a divertissement which he calls "soulful intercourse." Nevertheless THE MAN HIMSELF 31 with him philosophy is not something cold and remote, but a study which helps him to under- stand more and more the whole of human nature. Philosophy has enlarged his heart, and although he does not reveal himself to the casual passer-by, the area of his interests is a vast one. In music, however, his affections seem, at first, very limited ; and as he himself has stated that a man's creative style is largely the outcome of his admirations, it will be instructive to glance at his preferences. They begin with Bach (and Scarlatti to a lesser degree), and then comes a big hiatus until Chopin and Wagner. He confesses that both Mozart and Beethoven do not appeal to him, " except a bar or two here and there." Neither do Schubert nor Schumann as a whole, though he prefers these later composers to the earlier ones. Strange as it may sound, Mo- zart and Beethoven give him an * ' unpleasant sense of childishness." To him, Beethoven seems to have lived in an unfortunate age to have been a great man born at a time when musi- cal expression was somewhat childish. He tried to break away from this, but the barren age was too strong for him. Apart from Beethoven's last string quartets, Cyril Scott cannot feel any enthusiasm for his compositions. They seem bald and thin, striving to be grand and majestic, 32 CYRIL SCOTT which they surely were in their day, but sounding in our present time, too obvious and often banal. In other words, he " has not worn well." Bach on the other hand has ; the polyphony and con- tinual flow of his music is very impressive, like the ceaseless rhythm of the sea. He was great in everything ; a great harmonist, a great melo- dist, a great polyphonist. Beethoven (he asserts) was no harmonist. Wagner he finds all-satisfy- ing; and entirely monumental in his great operas, i.e., Tristan, The Ring, and The Master- singers. He calls Wagner the " Shakespeare of music." As to Tchaikovsky, there was a time when Scott drew much from him, but that com- poser also " wears badly," and he soon grew out of him. He considers this Russian master lacks the subtle touches, his melodies being on the whole too obvious, though sometimes very beautiful. The Pianoforte Concerto and his Romeo and Juliet Overture " have some ex- quisite things in them." He regards the Rus- sian composer though as a much more progres- sive influence than Brahms. Many critics have talked of Cyril Scott's kin- ship with Debussy, but the French master him- self can see no similarity at all, whilst showing the greatest sympathy for Scott's music. Debussy seems certainly to have influenced Scott in some THE MAN HIMSELF 33 ways ; and, as has been well said, Debussy is such an exquisite artist, such a wonderful creator of poetic mystic tints, a harmonist moreover of epoch-making originality, that he surely may only be ignored by those too ungifted to have been healthily tempted by such generous oppor- tunities. Bizet fills Scott with delight and he prefers him to Beethoven, because Bizet has an element which appeals to him and which is lacking in Beethoven's music. Chopin was a wonderful creator, having so little to guide him into the new tracts ; a marvellous modernist in his time. Scott owes as much to Richard Strauss as to Debussy; the Violin Sonata and also the Piano Sonata show as it were a combination of these two masters as founts of inspiration. Debussy, he thinks, is always " a little too precieux," and in these Sonatas, Cyril Scott mingled the two atmospheres and thus gained a certain source of inspiration from them in an indirect sort of way. The Rhapsody for Orches- tra has something of the same elements. De- bussy likes this best of all Scott's orchestral works. Brahms on the other hand except for his songs does not appeal to Scott much, nor does Max Reger, a mere " elongation of Brahms." The brilliant Stravinsky fills him 34 CYRIL SCOTT with admiration. . Scriabin he considers had great promise, but he died " whilst still a man- nerist. The result was monotony. Had he lived, he would perhaps have got beyond manner- ism." Prometheus struck him as a great work. Like Scriabin, Scott looks to music as a means to carry further the spiritual evolution of the race, and believes that it has occult properties of \vhich only a few enlightened people are aware. He has discussed this subject at length in the final chapter of his Philosophy of Modern- ism in Music. Owing to his associations with many psychics of great powers, he considers that music exhibits both thought-forms and colour to the psychic sight of the listener. If his admirations in the musical arena be thought limited, they are equally so in the liter- ary. Apart from Shakespeare and Keats and a few old ballads, he derives no pleasure from the older poets at all. Indeed, he has a genuine admiration for three poets only Francis Thomp- son, Ernest Dowson and Stefan George. Critics have tried to find some similarity between Swin- burne and Scott, but Swinburne does not appeal to him, and he certainly would not care to imitate him. Many of these keenly-expressed criticisms and admirations of Cyril Scott may make strange THE MAN HIMSELF 35 reading to some, but we should remember that the individual talent cannot appreciate all forms of greatness. Chopin did not like Beethoven ; nor Tchaikovsky, Bach, and so on. As a pianoforte virtuoso, Cyril Scott has a re- markable talent, and he has also a natural gift for conducting a faculty frequently absent from composers. Still more rare in musicians is the ability to lecture well, a gift which Scott certainly possesses. One of his best discourses is a very novel treatment of Wagner, combining the mystic interpretations presented by Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Crump with the more socialistic aspects of Bernard Shaw, and enlarging and emphasizing certain points by this conjunction of aspects, showing what a variety and depth of meaning is to be found in the extra- ordinary mentality of the combined musical, dramatic and poetic genius of Wagner. ORCHESTRAL AND CHORAL WORKS CHAPTER IV ORCHESTRAL AND CHORAL WORKS FOR a correct appraisement of the music of Cyril Scott we must first take the larger works. These comprise compositions both of the earliest and latest periods. His First Symphony has been relegated to oblivion. His second one, highly esteemed in its time, has been transformed into the Three Orchestral Dances, though, according to the composer himself (in spite of Percy Grainger 's admiration especially for the first one), not one of them is representa- tive. We do not feel that any great degree of orchestral maturity had been achieved until about his thirtieth year, when Scott began to write such works as the Overture to Princess Maleine, the Aubade, the Rhapsody, the Christmas Overture and Nativity Hymn. True it is that three of these productions the Aubade, the Princess 39 40 CYRIL SCOTT Maleine, and the Christmas Overture, were re workings of previous versions, but such a rewriting meant a complete transformation, and apart from certain of the most successful themes, the versions are hardly to be recognised. All three had already been performed in their original state by Sir Henry Wood, Sir Thomas Beecham and Mr. Landon Ronald ; but that did not prevent the composer from withhold- ing them from further performance. On the contrary, it stimulated him to rework them. It would be hard to say which is the happiest of these three works, for they are all so different in atmosphere. The Princess Maleine seems un- doubtedly to have achieved the mystic, pre-Ra- phaelite element of Maeterlinck's dramatic play. This work, it may also be mentioned, in spite of bearing the title "Overture," is as near to a "Symphonic Poem" as Scott has ever ap- proached. It is a drama in music archaic in parts, pictorial, tranquil at times, and wildly emotional at others there is a picturesque re- ligiosity about it ; and in its melodious portions, the cantilene sections are of unusual length. Whereas the a capella chorale at the end presents the quintessence of archaism in spite of a quite anacronistic use of the " 6-4 chord.' ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 41 Scott owes the performance of this work in Vienna to Frau Gustav Mahler, who corres- ponded with him as the result of the perform- ance of his Violin Sonata with Professor Rose of the famous Rose Quartet, and her en- thusiasm respecting this work was so great that she waived all conventions and wrote to Scott, asking him to relate his history, aims and achieve- ments. The outcome of this was a journey to Vienna later on, when Frau Mahler, collecting 42 CYRIL SCOTT all the musical and other celebrities of that artistic city, feted Scott and made arrangements for the performance of some of his work. The Overture had a great success, and arrangements were pend- ing for the production of the Nativity Hymn for large chorus and orchestra when war broke out, the MS. being stranded somewhere in the enemy country. But to return to our analysis. The Christmas Overture, as its title suggests, presents the at- mosphere of Yule-tide with the usual concomi- tants of that season, though with the less obvious idealism in addition. Beginning with a novel harmonization of the carol, Good King Wences- las, it proceeds with a joyous figure of chimes over an organ-point, finally bursting forth into bells of a more real order. This constitutes the introduction which after a little while subsides, and is followed by a theme of characteristic length and idealism, breaking off after a time for the exposition of a lively little folksong in dance- metre. The composer then juggles with the themes for a time, including snatches of Good King Wenceslas; until utilising his bell-figure for a great working-up, he gradually begins to in- terject See the Conquering Hero Comes, bringing the work (after a fugato) to a gigantic climax, with that well-known tune of Handel dressed in ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 43 modern harmony. As to the Nativity Hymn intended to follow upon this introductory over- ture, the score not being available, we are com- pelled to omit any analysis. This is especially unfortunate, as the work in question has a magni- tude which outstretches all the other Scott works. We are in the same position respecting the Rhapsody, which Debussy regards with great ad- miration, having heard it in Paris. In this case, the score is in Petrograd awaiting performance. We now turn to the Aubade, Op. 77, written in 1911, which has been performed at Darm- stadt, Berlin, Dresden, and other cities. It is an exquisite tone-poem descriptive of the mood of a peaceful morning. With quite a light orchestra, the composer limns his moods with growing fervour. Most of the work is very sub- dued, as one might imagine, since the name Au- bade indicates a serenade of the morning ; a joyous strain wherewith to waken a beloved sleeper unto the day. The melodies are very long, and are suggestive of a restrained passion and yearning. The rhythm is not of that regularity which makes performance easy the conductor, in fact, has his task set, with the varying 5-8, 4-8, 3-8, the logic of which device is apparent when long-drawn melodies are abundant. In form the piece may be regarded as one of gradual 44 CYRIL SCOTT expansion and diminution, dying away to the little calm sad figure of the commencement. Amongst his very finest works are the Piano- forte Concerto (given at the London Festival of British Music in 1915) and the Two Passacaglias on Irish Themes for orchestra, which were first given by Beecham at the Royal Philharmonic Society's Concerts in 1916. These three pieces are in the composer's most advanced style. The Pianoforte Concerto was written in the winter of 1913 and the spring months of 1914. The idea of writing a modern concerto a la Tchaikovsky had never appealed to him; and when finally he was drawn to this form of music, the work appeared entirely on unconventional lines. In fact, he admits that until the idea of treating the Concerto on what he himself called ''rather Bach-like lines" occurred to him, he had relinquished all hopes of ever writing one. Although his own description of it is ' ' Im- pressions of Bach, taken while on a supposed journey to China." Truth to tell, it is hardly like Bach at all. One might say the last movement is more like " Handel transported into the present generation." Performed with great success at Sir Thomas Beecham's 1914 British Music Season in London, with the composer at the piano, it seems up to the present to have ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 45 shared the fate of so many of the finest works of British composers here ; for at the time of writing, this has been its only public perform- ance. The war has suspended negotiations for a performance in Russia. The work opens with a strong vibrant note on the orchestra, upon which the solo instrument immediately makes a majestic entry with some powerful chords. This is followed by a passage of great vigour. A rippling glissade of musical mosaics a veritable cascade of opals gives a strikingly opalescent touch, and the movement gets w r ell under way with a brilliant strong- ly marked theme on the piano. The slightly Chinese atmosphere which gives such a distinct perfume to the second subject, can be traced to the Chinese Songs (notably the Picnic) and also to the first Sonnet for violin and piano. Snatches of plaintive melodies now abound and the music scintillates with radiant hues. Space forbids me to describe the many beauties and masterly touches, but the remarkable intensity of the melody for solo viola arid oboe forms a prominent feature. The brilliance of the piano- forte part, particularly in this movement, has to my mind never been equalled in the whole range of concertos hitherto. An atmosphere of mystic meditation rests over the whole of the slow move- 46 CYRIL SCOTT ment, and the themes appear in light relief over a continuous bourdon of distant evanescent bell- tones. It is a profound twilight meditation, into which tender flute-like melodies gently insinuate themselves. The movement dies away in soft soothing harmonies, a few stray resonances lingering (as though loth to depart) before the whole is gently wafted away. The utmost brilliancy is the leading note of the Finale, the whole movement being perme- ated with a joyous vitality and bustling good humour. The texture glows with gorgeous hues, and bell- tones form a rich back-ground. There is a wonderful verve about the movement, which is charmingly orchestrated by a thorough master of orchestral colouring. Celesta, Campanella, Harp and Piano are all requis- itioned in combination, to add to the brilliancy of this scintillating movement. Towards the end a gossamer-like veil of tone is as it were drawn over the vivacious leaping subject, which then broadens out gradually into the majestic harmony of the opening of the Concerto. The theme of the slow second movement reappears, only to expand into the return of the powerful motive, and the work ends in the most brilliant manner possible, with a clash of percussion on a majestic chord. ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 47 This work will certainly come to occupy a high place amongst Pianoforte Concertos. It pos- sesses amazing originality from beginning to end. The themes are masterly, the orchestration ex- quisite, and the form splendidly balanced. The first and last movements are cast on the usual Sonata lines. But how wonderfully modern is the expression and emotion of this piece, and with what gorgeous raiment has the composer clothed the whole ! Hide-bound pedants, w r ho have heard little of Cyril Scott's music, frequent- ly say that it is too restless in tonality. To my mind, if there be one flaw in this Concerto, it is, if anything, too tenacious of the key-note. With its tender confidences, one feels one would like the slow movement to go on longer, and for this perhaps a slight detour to some other tonic would be welcome. Here, Cyril Scott's music is comparable to no other. There is nothing of Debussy here, nothing of Strauss ; it is the com- poser himself. In the last movement for four bars only there is a very striking co-incidence with a favourite mood of Scriabin. But Cyril Scott at the time of writing knew nothing of Scriabin, and the momentary co-incidence is only interesting to a keen student of both composers. 48 CYRIL SCOTT The Two Passacaglias, notwithstanding their brevity, are undoubtedly the composer's high- est orchestral achievements. There he would seem to have drained the orchestra of every possibility, and the result is remarkable and most impressive. The two airs used are the Irish Famine Song, that deeply sad lament al- most heartrending in its intensity, and the Poor Irish Boy, which one gathers was originally a sad and sedate melody, but which Scott has used in ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 49 rapid tempo and produced a piece of feet-quick- ening vivacity, almost amounting to riotousness. The Famine Song begins very modestly, given out in octaves on the double basses ; then the time is transferred to the middle register and clothed in some of the best progressions Cyril Scott has ever written. If we scrutinize the musical quotation closely, we discover that, although the melody may be in a key itself, the tout ensemble gives the idea of no tonality, or else a very elusive one. Nearly every chord is in a different scale ; the first chord being in C ; the second in E minor ; the third in A flat major ; the fourth, E minor ; the fifth, C again; then E flat, and again C, and so on. Nevertheless, in one sense the whole phrase is in D minor, for should one place a cadence at its close, it could not well be the Tonic of C, but of D minor or else G major. The passacaglias are full of such harmonic problems, in fact. As to the form, a passacaglia is so simple (the tune being in one part or another throughout the whole work) that little need be said ; but certainly the composer has used every harmonic, contra- puntal and orchestral device to lend variety to his subject. The organ is employed in the finish- ing climax with as grandiose and overwhelming effect as in Scriabin's Prometheus, the volume 50 CYRIL SCOTT of sound being so great, some one said, as to become tearfully affecting. The Passacaglia No. II presents a strong con- trast. Here the composer uses every species of percussive instrument, including a grand piano. The score consists of about 42 staves, and as the result sounds are produced which have never been heard before. Certainly both Cyril Scott and Percy Grainger have exhibited the aug- mented possibilities of the Passacaglia and brought this old form into favour once again. Whether others will readily follow in their foot- steps remains to be seen. Finally we turn to Cyril Scott's latest choral work his setting of Keat's renowned Ballad, La belle Dame sans Merci. The Cantata was originally written for Soprano and Baritone solos and orchestra some eight years ago. The com- poser, later on, came to regard the work as some- what immature, although many portions of it still appealed to him ; so in the winter of 1915-16 the idea of turning it into a choral work struck him and he could thus realize the possibility of ad- ding much more colour to the beauty of Keat's poem. Certainly the result has been extremely happy, for there were many strings on Keat's lute which found a ready sympathetic resonance in the heart of Cyril Scott, who has a strong af- ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 51 finity with this poet. The work is replete with a certain archaic mysticism, and the atmosphere of "the cold hill-side" is strongly emphasized by his music. There is a feeling of intense desola- ^Iti ^moan lH^ i fat L 1 1 r w # j j ^ * rn n 1 . 22H -J . \ tion and sadness about the whole cantata, and even in its gayer passages there remains an under- tone of tragedy. The chorus gives the sensation of a great moan- ing. Novel effects of choral writing have here 52 CYRIL SCOTT been presented notably the altos divided in con- secutive seconds, the gruff ness of which proced- ure being considerably mollified by the rest of the harmony appearing on the orchestra. Passages in chromatic major thirds seem to suggest the soughing of the wind over bleak moorlands, and the music ends with a note of utter deso- lation. ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 53 As to other orchestral works there are several which we may mention to show that Scott was never orchestrally idle ; but we must add he has withdrawn them all, and thus they have no practical value now ; although they have helped to make his name, and found favour in the eyes of no less a conductor than Hans Rich- ter. The two Symphonies have already been mentioned. There was also a large Magnificat for chorus, soli, and orchestra. Then followed the Heroic Suite performed by Richter in Man- chester and Liverpool. After which came the Idyllic Suite, the Overture to Pelleas and Meli- sande, a Pianoforte Concerto in D, the Second Overture to Pelleas and Melisande, the Overture to Aglavaine and Selysette, an Arabesque, and the Two Rhapsodies for Orchestra. Not all of these works were performed, for the Magnificat, the First Piano Concerto, and Overture to Agla- vaine and Selysette never entered the concert hall, nor did the Second Rhapsody. The other works, however, have been performed in Lon- don, Bournemouth, Bath, Birmingham, Frank- fort, and other places. It will be seen that Cyril Scott is always very critical of his own productions. Unlike Strauss, he will not suffer performances of things which he knows to be immature and unworthy. " They 54 CYRIL SCOTT were good exercises," he remarks, "and I amused myself by writing them, but I certainly never wish to hear them, and would spare others doing so as well." ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 55 1 $ * . , ,, ... n Facsimile of Cyril Scott's Handwriting, 1916, (Rough sketch of an unpublished work). CHAMBER MUSIC CHAPTER V CHAMBER MUSIC THE smallness of the number of Scott's contri- butions to Chamber-music is amply atoned for by their intrinsic value and fine quality ; and chief among them stands' the Quintet for Piano and Strings. In this domain we are confronted once more with the composer's critical, even hyper- critical attitude towards his own works. For of the many things he has produced, only the Quintet and the Violin Sonata (which, owing to its magnitude and importance, must come under this heading) remain as valid in the composer's estimation. Indeed, he would withdraw the Pianoforte Quartet in E minor were it not published and so safely outside the dangers of his fire-place. In short, Scott has been very active in chamber-music production, but equally active in his policy of destruction. There have 59 60 CYRIL SCOTT been a Pianoforte Trio, two String Quartets, a Pianoforte Quintet (written at the age of twenty-one), a Violin Sonata (written soon after- wards), and then the Piano Quartet. 1 None of these, however, save the last, are extant, even the Quartet played so much on the Continent being laid aside for a reworking. The Quintet, written in 1911-12, was originally a sextet which the composer conceived at the age of twenty-five ; but as it struck him, later on, thai- parts of it were inadequate, he bethought him to take its best portions and convert it into a Quintet. The lovely opening melody of the first movement breathes an exquisite ideality, and is not without an undercurrent of longing for further exultation. Those who have but a super- ficial acquaintance with Cyril Scott's works, and those others who charge the composer with a lack of melodiousness, should here note this won- derfully long-breathed melody which sings on for not less than 41 bars without any feeling of a break. Easements of melodic tension there are, but they merely serve as poises for a further flight. It is significant that such a long thread of melodic invention can only be sustained by the use of irregular measures 4-8, 5-8, 4-4, and so 1 Boosey & Co CHAMBER MUSIC 61 on. A short episode which foreshadows the second theme of the final section (7-8 time), here given by the strings only, is wistful and longing, and works up to the Free Fantasia portion, which is consummated in an enormous climax just be- fore the return of the opening theme. The second theme on its final appearance is accom- panied by a high pendulous counter-melody on the violin. The last echo of this theme is gradu- ally accelerated until, quite naturally and without a break of any kind, it has become transformed to the Allegro grazioso ma non troppo of the second movement. It has been stated that the music of Cyril Scott is lacking in form ; on the contrary, the construc- tion and design, in his larger works particularly, is exceedingly fine, well balanced, logical, and satisfying. The whole of the Quintet is one continuous piece, although according very closely to so-called Sonata form considerably elaborated. The idea of the four movements of the so-called classical Sonata which have little or hardly any connection with one another, does indeed seem to leave something lacking and certainly is not very logical. So it may be noted that in all Cyril Scott's works written in Sonata form, he intro- duces an echo or recapitulation, in some manner '62 CYRIL SCOTf or other, of all the previous chief themes, into the development section of the final movement. This device may set the pattern for the Sonata form of the future, just as Beethoven when con- necting the first and second themes of his first movement in contra-distinction to Mozart, set the pattern for the sonata-form for his successors. The second movement is flavoured with a remote gaiety, and the muted instruments em- phasize and intensify the feeling that the exult- ation is on some other plane than the purely physical one. After some time, a new melody of a singing character enters on the viola (now unmuted). On the return of the first gay theme, the piano has a subject of that sparkling, scintil- lating nature which is characteristic of Cyril Scott in his gayer moods. This section gradu- ally transforms the joyful theme in a \vonderf ul way into the leading subject of the slow move- ment, a piece of fervent intensity. The first seven-bar phrase, given out in similar motion by the strings alone, is given on the next page. One of the most moving passages in the Quintet follows. The 'cello has a melody in its most penetrating register and is followed by the violin with even greater intensity, the theme be- ing finally taken up and carried on to the whole CHAMBER MUSIC r<2 moltojonommente **&$; 03 Cello of the strings. A new theme enters and yet not entirely new, for there is a subtle feeling of its having been evolved and therefore become in- evitable. Moreover, in this exalted mood we rarely get anything like a definite ca- dence. The music surges, streams, or bubbles with an endless sort of rhythm as of the sea. Sustained power of thought, and length of melodic line, are after all the great tests of a composer's worth. Now an unexpected little intermezzo comes breaking forth and dances 64- CYRIL SCOTT along uninterruptedly until the original theme begins to insinuate itself, at first very subtly, but finally gaining such power that the figure of the Intermezzo is completely ousted. The whole of the beautiful chromatic passage recurs here and mounts up to a climax which only gradually subsides to emerge in the Finale. This is an Allegro con molto spirito, almost impossible to describe in words, opening in the following manner : con molfo spirito CHAMBER MUSIC 65 The second subject, in a mood of high ecstasy on the violin, has that soaring, seething richness of Strauss in feeling, but different in texture. Another theme now enters, the first indication of which occurred towards the end of the second theme of the Scherzo movement. Then comes a rapid marshalling of all the chief themes of the Quintet, which brings the work to a culmination of exceeding majesty and brilliancy. The Coda ends with a long ringing note of majestic tri- umph. In his Violin Sonata, the most difficult and modern of all works for this combination of in- struments (barring, perhaps, Ornstein's), the composer has, contrary to his usual custom, di- vided the music into four definite movements. The last movement, however, brings in a re- capitulation of the themes of all the previous movements. The number of lovely cantabile melodies gives the work a certain peaceful charm, a restful feeling which recalls Cesar Franck in some of his moods. But there is far more action in this music of Cyril Scott than in any work of the French composer, the constantly shifting harmonies giving a sense of activity which music, of an earlier period fails to do, at any rate now that the dust of a few years has des- cended upon it. The opening theme is of a re- 06 CYRIL SCOTT markable energy, full of almost violent rhythm comprised with an emphatic harmony. The composer is here hitting straight from the shoul- der, just as Frank Brangwyn does in his decora- tive pictures. Although some people style Cyril Scott precieux, his larger works are replete with a vigour as remote from all " preciousness " as it is possible to imagine. The form of the first movement of this Sonata is so closely welded that theme passes into theme, and development into development, without any possible break. This might lead one to sup- pose that there is an element of monotony in the music ; but it is not so, t for there are periods of restfulness which suggest a pause without any sense of break in thought, or in harmonic flow. As to the coda, its power and majesty seem almost overwhelming, while the only musi- cal analogy to such superb richness of pianoforte scoring is the wealth of orchestration to be found in the later operas of Richard Strauss. Someone has likened the third movement, which may be called a Scherzo, to the playfulness of monkeys in a tropical forest, and certainly it affords the strongest possible contrast to the exotic melan- choly of the second movement. From the Scher- zando point of view, this is something entirely new, owing to the constant change of rhythm CHAMBER MUSIC 07 and the mixture of song and dance elements, stri- dent exclamations jostling freely against poetical phrases truly a veritable medley of moods. The finale has a dual significance. Whilst its proper themes rise easily to the high level of the pre- ceding lyricism, it also serves as an arena for all the subjects from the other movements. Near the end there is a Fugato which attains its full climactic power in the introduction of the theme of the second movement. The list of first-class modern Sonatas for the violin and piano is certainly circumscribed, and this contribution of Cyril Scott therefore should be doubly welcome to concert artists of the first rank. My one criticism is that the evolution of musical form tends to render the re-statement of themes at any length in the recapitulatory sec- tions unnecessary. Why repeat anything at all when one's memory carries it in mind? Still, perhaps this reflection is somewhat unnecessary with regard to Scott, since many find his music not always easy to follow, and his themes too far removed from the obvious to dispense entirely with the necessity for recapitulation. THE SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS CHAPTER VI THE SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS I AM inclined to think that it is largely owing to what Cyril Scott has called "the strange musical constitution of England " that he composes so many pieces in smaller forms, especially piano pieces and songs. The difficulty of publishing larger dimensional works in this country is considerable. I believe that if this were otherwise we should find Cyril Scott known in Great Britain far less as a specialist for the piano and voice, than as a composer of very fine chamber music and orchestral works. In- deed, should things ever change in this country, as far as musical appreciation (and hence pub- lishing) is concerned, I believe the output of Scott's smaller works would become less and less. For some reason or other, difficult to divine, Cyril Scott's best works for the piano are not 7 1 72 CYRIL SCOTT those best known ; and I know that I must face the tribunal of public opinion in choosing the pieces for mention in this chapter. I would suggest to those, who may feel a little aggrieved at not finding the names of many piano pieces which are their favourites, that it is better to learn of something new than to be told of what we already know. Two of the most interesting sets of pianoforte pieces are the cycle called Egypt and the set of Five Impressions from the Jungle Book. The Egyptian cycle is widely differentiated in style from that of the Jungle Book Im- pressions, although it is difficult to describe the difference in words. Whilst he has realised in the Jungle the Indian atmosphere in a degree never before attained, the Egpytian suite is en- veloped in a much deeper mysticism. The first number of Egypt, called In the Temple of Memphis, opens with slow, mysterious, insinuating figures, suggestive of double flutes. The music increases in eloquence, expression and sonority, the underlined major thirds giving a pleasant, reedy and pastoral feeling, whilst the whole-tone steps impart an indefinable weirdness. The piece reaches a majestic climax of the utmost force, the wind instruments, as it were, veritably shrieking out their shrill, sharp SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 73 skirl. The climax gradually relapses into almost complete inertness, whilst the little opening fig- ure is gently breathed forth in low flute-like tones. The second piece opens with a simple tran- quil scale passage in whole-tones, alternating throughout with the quasi bustling figures in "broken fourths" and sixths, which constitute the real material of the movement. At first sight the impressionistic sketch, By the Waters of the Nile, looks as though it were closely related to the " Chinese chop-sticks " figures of the Con- certo and other pieces, but the sound and feeling of these fourths is quite distinct, the lower har- mony here adding a strong quality of Eastern mysticism. The slightly accentuated episode in the middle affords the only instance in the whole of Cyril Scott's music, where the realism to my mind seems pushed to a crude and barbar- ous stage. But it is probable that the composer in- tended this effect, since he insists on it again later on. Such a complaint certainly cannot be made with regard to the exquisite and suave Egyptian Boat Song, the slow languidity of which seems full of lotus-land charm. The simple little theme of five notes gives birth to the whole piece ; from it springs a melody of long delicious curve, under- lined in major thirds throughout. The music is wonderfully vivid ; mirages of distant mosques, 74 CYRIL SCOTT roseate with a luminous haze, rise before the eyes. The rocking of the darghah is always present and the slow plaint of the flutes com- pletes the warm, languorous picture. The Funeral March of the Great Raamses is richly informed with highly-coloured pageantry ; the continually-changing tonalities, like moving colours in a kaleidoscope, conjure up a pic- ture of some sumptuous procession, painted in flaming colours which run into one another almost to the point of blurring. But a majestic change of "key-colour" with an emphatic, trumpet-like passage, reminds us that this was one great among the kings of the earth. The Funeral procession gradually passes from sight and hearing. I have played through Song of the Spirits of the Nile, the final piece in the set, but I cannot find any meaning in it. It appears to me nothing but a piece of exaggerated mannerism ; the idea in the composer's mind does not "get over the footlights." But it is quite likely if one pos- sessed the clue to it, that it would appear differ- ently. Certainly this set Egypt is more subtle than any other music of Scott. The spirit of pageantry, the love of strong colours, and the cunning charm of Egypt lies drowsily over all this music. SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 75 The Jungle opens with a slow, mysterious melody of low pitch poised over an incessantly bourdonning pedal-figure. This suggests that dull, continuous, murmuring note, which is the subtle, never silent bourdon of the jungle. Over it, the melody slowly and subtly de- velops in ever-extending curves, only broken into occasionally by a shrill motive : the chatter of a monkey or the scream of a parroquet. The main melody moves majestically on, at length fading away as subtly as it was evolved. Dawn, a lyric movement, opens with a skirl on some reed-like instrument. The melody de- velops with a pastoral feeling and with that strange curvilinear melodic style which the com- poser shares with Debussy alone. In the third impression, Rikki-tikki-tavi, the composer is obviously aiming at a very defin- ite picture of the fight between Kipling's little mongoose and the maliciously-minded snake. The conflict waxes severe and the deft, darting movements of the two animals fighting to the death are admirably portrayed. A strik- ing change occurs in the music at the part marked "lovingly," when Rikki-tikki-tavi is received joyfully back into the bosom of the white man's family. But all this is not marked in the 76 CYRIL SCOTT music, for the composer assumes that everyone knows this Kipling story well. The harmonic colouring is frequently of that lithographic vividness which one associates with the sunshine and the glaring skies of the East* The movements of the snake are astoundingly real, and this reminds me of a story which I re- ceived at first hand from the pianist concerned. When in Jamaica he was playing the Eikki- tikki-tavi and the Snake piece one Sunday afternoon in his verandah room, when his wife came in and quietly asked him to continue playing and to look round. He did so, and saw a live snake gyrating in graceful folds in time \vith the music, which it was enjoying thor- oughly. In the Dance of the Elephants, the weirdness of Kipling's story is intensified and rendered none the less captivating. The left hand is di- rected to be played always a little louder than the right, and these low, heavy fifths convey admir- ably the impression of the clumsily padding hoofs of the beasts holding their nocturnal festival, at- tempting to be graceful in the depth of the forest. A perverse sort of whole-tone scale winds up this vivid set of pieces, in which pathos, pictur- esqueness, poetry and a certain impishness are combined. SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 77 ftrittante Even the more perceptive members of the pub- lic are a little loth to accept a man equally favour- ably in a dual role. In one of the very best sets of pianoforte pieces Poems it is difficult to say whether Cyril Scott's creations in verse, or the reproduction of the soul-states in music, reach the higher level. Such a set will only yield up its secret to the most sensitive temperaments; but to them, these five poems are amongst the most highly-prized pieces by this composer. A poem preceded each piece, and it is an interesting 78 CYRIL SCOTT occupation to decide whether the poetry or the music achieves the mood with the greater deli- cacy and the surer touch. Poppies is a languid Lento, full of deep ex- pression and founded on chords of broken fourths, played una corda. Little flute-like melodies of a strikingly characteristic curvilinear character intervene at intervals. A slight ripple of increased emotion occurs in the middle, and the song ends with the merest waft of colour on the swaying breeze. In The Garden of Soul-Sym- pathy, which is perhaps still more elusive, the composer rhapsodises "in soul-knit gladness," and harmonious visions of wondrous colour move majestically over the ear. A bell-like interlude, which occurs in the middle, suggests the pale sound of distant bells floating across the valley to this secret garden cloister. To anyone who wants the difference in har- monic method between the older and the newer schools explained to him in a few words, I would recommend the study of the harmonic basis of this piece ; although I think it would not do to let the composer discover you at such cold- blooded musical anatysis. Like Debussy, he would protest against the dissection of his music, as if it were a piece of curious clockwork mechan- ism. In the Revue Blanche in 1891 the French SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 79 master wrote, " As children we were taught to regard the dismemberment of our play-things and toys as a crime of high treason, but these older children still persist in poking their noses where they are not wanted, endeavouring to ex- plain and dissect everything in a cold-blooded way, thus putting an end to all mystery." One of the most interesting of the piano pieces from the harmonic point of view is the third number of this set, entitled Bells. It is pre- ceded by a quotation from Cyril Scott's Book of Mournful Melodies. The piece adopts the note "A" as the tonal centre and a certain minor colouring is sustained throughout. An inces- sant bell-figure in sixths, with a curious perverse sort of false relation between the F sharp and the F natural, chimes incessantly. Under this, rich and trombonelike chords are sustained, and the melody sings in the horn register of the piano. The piece reaches a climax of brilliant scintilla- tion in the E major episode, after which it dies away gradually. Truly Sounds of colourless dreams, of strange visionary vague- ness telling: Immaculate music, heralding the life of sighs, Bells across the lone lassitude, rising, rolling, endlessly swelling Over the wasteland solitude lost in the clear chaotic skies. 80 CYRIL SCOTT Edgar Allan Poe in twentieth-century dress, you say! Yes perhaps. 6 I love Scott's music," said someone to me one day, " but I am absolutely stumped by the glissandos, especially those up and down the black keys in Lotus Land and in the Twilight of the Year. Can he do them himself?" "Oh, yes; I have heard him race up and down the piano thus, chuckling with delight ; I have also heard York-Bo wen doing glissandi in double octaves up and down the piano, but I believe that both of them receive slight finger contusions at times. I cannot do them myself, so I am unable to give my readers the knack which I am told is all that is required, given an amenable touch on the piano. In Twilight of the Year (No. 4 of the Poems) we have the delicate antiqueness of Bull and Byrde served up in modern dress, and I am sure the glissando \vould be easier on one of the old virginals. In this piece, to use the com- poser's own words, 4 the heart returns to stanzas steeped in woe.' ' Now, deeply throbbing sighs escape the muted viol, When across the meadows wander tired herds : We sink, entwined no longer can we read the sunless dial, And e'en the wasted willows whisper weary words. SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 81 Nothing more intimate has ever been written in music. Nevertheless, I can imagine that the vividness of the Paradise-Birds will appeal to more players. Their fragrant notes are indeed garnished with beauteous colours in the marvel- lous little arabesques. The mystic trees and sa- cred bowers do indeed 4 6 resplendent shine with the eternal sunset's light" in the resounding chords and rolling arpeggios, symbolic of the mingling of all faded human joys in one ; but the piece ends with a " strong aspiring, freed from the sense of separateness and a gladness born of lost delights returning." In this set of Poems, in Egypt and in the Jungle Book we have a contri- bution fit to rank with the rhapsodies of Liszt, the dances of Chopin, the sonatas of Brahms and aubades of Scriabin. One of the most attractive of the short pieces is the Sphinx. It opens with several short phrases, every bar a harmonic question ; the mood alternating between this and a lyric passage. A meditative alto melody supplies contrast. It has a strange feeling of Eastern incantation about it; something like a triumphant solu- tion seems to occur at the climax, but the mys- terious incantation and all the old questions return afresh. The piece ends with a satisfying 82 CYRIL SCOTT major chord. There is a suggestion of a plain- tive bassoon hidden among swaying rushes, piping a melancholy under-melody in a strange admixture of major and minor key, an admixture which produces far more plaintiveness than if the phrase were in the minor throughout. Curiously enough that most diatonic of com- posers, George Frederick Handel, has exer- cised a certain influence at times on this modern English composer, and it was a happy thought of Percy Grainger to urge Cyril Scott to curtail his original piano Sonata No. 1 a work which he had discarded as immature and permit it to come forth under Grainger 's editorship as the Handelian Rhapsody, Op. 17. One won- ders what Handel himself would have said to such rhapsodization. Still Handel was much wider in his ideas than many even of his greatest admirers imagine. The Prelude Solennelle is one of the finest of the piano pieces. Its free rhythm, far from detracting from its dignity, deepens the vein of serious feeling which pervades the piece. Written mainly in robust chords, there are many moving passages of awe, wonderment, and re- ligious calm, but the joyful mood predominates and the piece ends after a glittering cadenza of SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 83 the utmost scintillation. Wagner's influence comes to the surface in parts, but the piece is aji admirable example of the way Scott can take a short theme and entirely evolve a whole piece from it, unfailing in variety and gripping in interest. If asked to mention a piece which gives that soft freshness of early morning when nature seems to take on a new and virginal beauty a favourite mood of the composer I should quote 84 CYRIL SCOTT the Cavatina written in 1915. In this lovely Andante we get the quintessence of pianoforte lyricism. The constantly changing bar-times fail to dis- turb its calm because there is above them a wider sense of rhythm, an undisturbed flow of melody : logical sequence lies subtly concealed under these graceful curves ; harmonic subtlety abounds. Take for instance the last chord of the bridge leading to the return SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 85 or the following delicate dallying over the en- harmonic hiatuses. The bell-like chords at the Piu mosso are very arresting, and the manner of returning to the first theme is exceedingly poetical. The Diatonic Study, a favourite with organ- ists, has a diatonic melody, delicate in curve, 86 CYRIL SCOTT rippling away happily over a gently rocking bass, like little wavelets over a shii:gly shore. Tran- quillity and strength of melodious curve are the prevailing features. Only once is there a per- ceptible break, just before the reprise. If the tune be diatonic, there is a plenitude of harmon- ic interest. Indeed some people regard the novel harmonies (or is it the scales?) as unpleasantly creaking, a distasteful vagary of this wayward composer. The waywardness is to my ear very charming. Concerning matters of taste, non disputandum est. Be that as it may, I feel sure that the ending sets even the most stubborn of these dissenters chuckling with delight. For sinuous curves of melody and romantic Western colour, the second of the two pieces, Over the Prairie, stands very high amongst musi- cal miniatures. The inner melody of the left hand can bring out a positively uncanny eeriness. The organ-like richness of harmony in the ma- jestic chords of the Ode Hero'ique is difficult to excel. A bell-like episode turns to a mood of gentle lyricism ; but some sterner chords bring in an array of richly connected harmonies lead- ing to a majestic restatement of the opening theme. There is something of the grandeur of the sea here, and, in this regard, there is a curious SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 87 connection between the penultimate bar of this piece and the opening chords of Schubert's famous song, Das Meer. THE LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS CHAPTER VII THE LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS THE Pianoforte Sonata, written in the sum- mer of 1908, affords an altogether new piano technique. The difficulties are so enormous that only artists of the first rank would care to tackle it. This Sonata has no tonality. It opens in a restless, vigorous mood, but the second subject gives tranquility, not altogether devoid of a certain wistful, yearning feeling. The passages of sixths over shifting tonalities are very striking. This second theme gradually un- folds and expands until it reaches climaxes of prodigious power and of the utmost brilliancy. Then we have some modifications of the first subject after which comes a development section where the themes are treated with masterly skill. In the recapitulation, the first theme pro- ceeds straight into the second without preamble. 91 92 CYRIL SCOTT A decided pause is reached but it merely forms a hovering point which has no real cadential effect ; and we pass into the slow movement without break. This lovely section opens with eighteen bars of sustained melody, grand and dignified in mood, richly clothed in striking har- monies. An episode follows leading into the second theme which vies with the first for the palm of beauty. Melodiously tranquil and soul- fully happy, it develops in canonic fashion. After this the opening grandeur of the first sub- ject on its return is rendered even more striking. Most composers would have broken the music there after so lovely a song, but this is not Scott's method. As the slow movement gradually sub- sides, little suggestions of the coming Scherzo insinuate themselves in a species of short Fan- tasia which finally emerges into the Scherzo proper. To my mind, this is the most original and characteristic of all Cyril Scott's moods, and the only composer who approaches anywhere near him in this vein is Alexander Scriabin. It seems to me that there is here achieved in music an adumbration of that phenomenon which Car- penter calls Cosmic Consciousness. It may be traced psychologically I think from the ex- LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 93 hilarating effect which Beethoven and Mahler occasionally secured in their codas. But Scott carries it to a higher power. This Scherzo is a wild, mad happy dance, but it is a terpsichorean expression on some higher plane than the physi- cal. It has the same molecular atmospheric fes- tive feeling which we feel in Debussy's Fetes. Waywardness and exuberance there are also in the opening subject, the second theme giving a plaintive contrast to the previous exuberance of spirit. We then return to the original mood, and the music dances happily along until we reach the recapitulation of a very majestic phrase from the first movement. Again there is a free fan- tasia portion which embraces almost all the pre- ceding themes in a tranquilized form, the whole gently subsiding, previous to the introduction of the Fugue, a veritable tour de force which car- ries the music along to the greatest climax of the whole Sonata. This is probably the first fugue ever written in the absence of regular rhythm, and is based on two subjects 94 CYRIL SCOTT tro con^pirifo. the second being derived from the second theme of the first movement ; LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 95 We have in this Sonata one of the finest piano works on the large scale, representing a com- pletely logical cycle of moods, and replete with 96 CYRIL SCOTT beauty and with ornamental device of every kind. Sooner or later so superb a work must become a regular item in the repertoire of all pianists of the first rank. One of the chief characteristics of the Sonata is its complete freedom of rhythm. The chang- ing bar-times, however, produce no feeling of restlessness in the music, but only invest it with the eloquence of a fine discourse ; and it may be added that on its first performance not one critic was sensible of its rhythmic irregularities. Amongst the longer cyclic works, the Second Suite Opus 75 deservedly takes a high place. It is in five movements, the last being a well-devel- oped fugue. The work is dedicated to Claude Debussy, who was much impressed with it. He writes, " Cyril Scott is one of the rarest artists of the present generation," a striking testi- mony from one of the greatest musical epicures. But Debussy is not the only great contemporary who admires him, for Percy Grainger has a whole-hearted admiration for Scott's music, which he has carried even to the extent of a re- vision of some of the earlier works, which would not have been published otherwise. To return. This suite is an eminently successful example of the way in which Scott can infuse new colour and fresh emotion into the old moulds. LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 97 The Prelude, the Air Varied, the Solemn Dance, the Caprice, the Introduction and Fugue, are all forms bearing the halo of antiquity. Yet the guises here are new enough in all truth. The Prelude is a gently swaying lyric whose impres- sion of freedom is secured by alternating time- signatures. Exquisitely poetic passages present a picture of most idyllic emotion. The unusual nature of the theme for the varia- tions strikes one as remarkable. It opens thus : iJlndante soztenuto 98 CYRIL SCOTT For the first variation, the theme is taken into an inner part, but the word "variation" must not be taken too literally. We see here in these variations successive transformations, distillations of the emotional germ, rather than the actual outline of the theme, which nevertheless is always present in an increasingly subtle form. After varied presentments Piu mosso, Allegro, An- dante, Molto scherzando the piece ends with a soft repetition of the theme in its original form. It is thus that I like all sets of variations to end. These variations are more in the manner of, though entirely different in matter from those of Brahms, Reger and Elgar ; things of the spirit rather than of the letter ; or as the composer himself might put it, the same soul in suc- cessive bodies. Those who expect something of the style of Maurice Ravel's stately Pavane in the Solemn Dance of this Suite will be disap- pointed. The atmosphere is that of the old- fashioned Minuet, but with a difference. There is all the old world grace without any of the stiff- ness of the 17th century. A Watteau-like pic- ture in music on freer lines (in 7-8 time, 5-8 and 10-8 and what not), everything is richly filled in ; there are no thin places. The caprice, also in free time, is in reality a Scherzando ; there are passages of remarkable brilliancy and of rich LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 99 harmonic colouring. Whilst for the second two movements the composer adopts a fixed key-note (E) and for the Solemn Dance (C or G), for the Caprice he abandons any tonal centre whatsoever and ends with an E flat chord. The Introduction and Fugue is in a style fit to raise the hair of the musical pundits. What think you of the follow- subject for a Fugue ? It certainly does not look promising from the point of view to which many of us are accustomed. It has, by the way, a curious relationship with the theme for variations already mentioned. Never- theless Cyril Scott has developed one of his finest compositions (of about 200 bars in length) filled with all kinds of beauty, harmonic and contrapun- tal. The first movement began with C as a centre. The impressive coda to the Fugue ends with a B flat chord, while the Introduction 100 CYRIL SCOTT begins in B. I am inclined to think the key of the Fugue subject is really E flat, the answer enter- ing on B flat. With Scott's music the ear is the only arbiter, the notation being often merely acci- dental. This Suite was remarkably well received in Paris on its first performance, the composer him- self being at the key-board. THE SONGS CHAPTER VIII THE SONGS IT is a custom of the day to write songs as a species of recitative (witness Debussy, Ravel and others). Scott's teacher, Ivan Knorr, used to say that such were not specially songs at all in the most accurate sense of the word. Brahms and Schumann wrote real songs that is, melody in the voice, and so does Scott. In French, a synonym for song is melodic, and to write such real melo- dies is, I think, far more difficult than to produce the recitative class of song, because the melody has either to be more or less original, or through new harmony, to produce an original effect. Undoubtedly Cyril Scott's effects are produced through the harmonies a little part-writing in addition. From the large number of his songs I select the following for brief men- tion : Ma Mie (A last word) is one of the best 103 104 CYRIL SCOTT of the early period, whilst My Captain and the Blackbird's Song are apparently the most popular. For the songs of the second period I would specially mention Mirage with its sooth- ing, magnetic beauty, the restful, lovely My Lady sleeps, the virile A Song of Wine, and the entrancing White Knight (with its pictorial suggestion of the galloping of horses), not to omit one of the best of all his inspirations in lyric- al form, the unspeakably touching An Old Song Ended. Deeply sincere and impressive are A Gift of Silence, Love's Aftermath, and the elo- quent setting of Christina Rossetti's For a Dream's Sake. Daffodils is captivating in its spontaneous melody and exquisite piano part. In a more advanced style the Autumn Song, the Villanelle of The Poet's Road with its original harmonies, and the Moon Maiden with its ban- tering queries and answers. Amongst the very best of his songs are the early Two Poems: Voices of Vision and Willows, written in 1903, wonderfully daring in richness of texture and originality of setting. New modes of expression have been opened up in the Two Chinese Songs, Waiting and A Picnic, to H. A. Giles' transla- tion from the Chinese. The oriental feeling in these two wonderful songlets is delightfully reproduced. Whilst the first reaches the en- THE SONGS .7 105 harmonic system as nearly as possible with a twelve-note scale, the second wins my pre- ference, being filled with a delightful rattle of musical " chopsticks.'* There is, however, another type of song to which Cyril Scott occasionally turns as indeed did also Brahms and other composers ol equal repute and this is the folk-song; for to omit any mention of Scott's activity in this di- rection would be to ignore some of his happiest inspirations. Indeed, one or two of his truest interpretations have been inspired by this folk- song element, notably An Old Song Ended, al- ready referred to, and also a setting of that ex- quisitely tender lyric, The Sands of Dee. No- thing could be more truly pathetic than the musical atmosphere of this setting, so entirely unlike the way in which it has been set before, that is to say, imitatively. Solely through the means of a folk-song-like melody and varying harmony, Scott has brought forth the unspeak- ably simple pathos of Kingsley's Poem. Nor has the simplicity suffered by a judicious use of mod- ern harmonic device, and the final cadence is new and yet retentive of an older world simplicity. There are other songs containing this folk- vein to a greater or lesser degree The White Knight being one, but of a more or less naive and IOG CYRILSCOTT gay quality, quite unlike The Sands of Dee. Then again we have the two old English fyrics, Lovely kind and kindly Loving and Why so wan and pale, neither of which, however, comes up to the quality of the later An Old Song Ended and The Sands of Dee. Another example, but of a different nature, may be mentioned the Tyro- lese Evensong. Here Scott has wandered into the folk element of another country and pre- sented us with an undeniable Tyrolese Mazurka for the piano with a sad, sustained song-melody woven into the texture of its prevalent gaiety. To leave the folk-type of song, in Lilac Time (written for Miss Maggie Teyte) to some excep- tionally happy words by Walt Whitman, the ecstatic mood of the poet is reproduced and am- plified by a beautifully-coloured sound-web, punctuated here and there by a little recurrent vocal arabesque, which exactly reproduces the happy exclamation anticipatory of pleasure and filled with quick breathing. THE SONGS 107 ...:/. - ;. .'-.':.:::>;,;.:- : ' :-*"J&S&&f-* It is not easy to vocalize, as the reader will dis- cover if he try. Later on, the poet's happy simile of the soul's journey, "like a magnificent ship gaily breasting the waters," and again, the references to the lilac-scent, the green grass, and the morning drops of dew, receive as it were their very essence in this ingenious musical counter- part. The striking triumph of the final appog- giatated chords recalls the consummation of the Ode Heroique. This is one of his very finest songs. Both words and music of Spring Song have been written by Scott. The cuckoo-calls, sug- gested and developed rather than exactly re- produced, which constitute the short prelude, form, as it were, a background for the whole. The simple little arabesque forms a highly effective ritornel wondrously shaded by variously emotional inflections to the psalmodic melody, which is spun out over sustained chords of original harmonic colour. In the joyous Spring-day, the soul of the ^poet-musician carols forth, awakening far dreams anew, as springtime streams "from skies , of endless blue." At the words "love-knit har- mony" a rich webbing of long-strung arpeggios is commenced and continues to the end, with just a slight poising here and there on some rich 10S '.:V: CYRIL SCOTT new harmony whilst the voice melodizes in psalnv^ like declaration. The composer's fondness for J ritornels will be noticed here as a beautiful form- J device, which he uses equally effectively also in ; Lilac Time. It was to Melchior Lechter, the famous Ger-j man artist and designer already referred to, that | in memory of a close friendship Cyril Scott dedi- " cated one of his most touching songs of parting, entitled Sorrow. It contains three short sobbing stanzas by Ernest Dowson, in which the poet's breath seems almost smothered by his sobs. -'-'.-.''-.'."'"-". !"'.':' '-' : v ' ''"* ''' """." -T" '. ../-.-.- '. '-*.'_:" -: -..f.. 4v-V-*^&r 5 , Exceeding sorrow Consumeth my sad heart, Because to-morrow "We must depart; Now in exceeding sorrow all my part. For simple pathos the diatonic music would be difficult to surpass ; its very simplicity being the rare accident of perfect beauty here. From its grief-laden opening to its close the very quin- tessence of silent sorrow is caught, Ernest Dow- son has supplied Cyril Scott with a large number of sympathetic poems which seem to coincide with the soul-states of the composer. Amongst the many facets of Cyril Scott's versatile genius, one perhaps marvels most at ' ? *< ;.:? -"i* THE SONGS 109 the wonderfully accurate reproduction of nature and its corresponding symbolism of human moods at the same time. He has the rare gift of appre- hending these moods in the three planes, visual, aesthetic and emotional all at once. We were once discussing colour and movement and in the course of argument Cyril Scott went to the piano and played a remarkable rendering of the play of Rainbow Trout 1 in clear water. Long, un- usual, chromatically-coloured arpeggios swept over a range of four octaves in the upper region of the keyboard, whilst slow, scarcely-moving harmonies in the bass suggested quiet pools of clear water. " Rather too loud for minnows " was the composer's remark. Another example of his great power of repro- ducing moods, is the musical setting of Margaret Maitland Radford's stanzas entitled "Rain.' 5 The regular patter of the seconds maintains a mo- notonous sodden atmosphere more accurately seized than even by Debussy in his Jardins sous la pluie. This creates a monotonous drab throughout, pleasing by its verisimilitude save where likens the sweeping rain-drifts to a weird procession of "giant ghosts with hollow ancient eyes." The high key setting is the I Now published (Schott & Co.) 110 ; CYRIL SCOTT original form. It would be a good thing if pub- lishers would always state the original key of-a' song. In this instance the accompaniment is a little gruff in the lower key. An unerring taste in poetry is the necessary concomitant of the song-composer. One c not set an auctioneer's catalogue to music as't* Strauss seems to think, and the perfect lyricist is$|| prevented by a sense of fitness, if not by intu-||l ition, from choosing unsuitable material. And | so it comes about that in a composer's choice of lyrics, as in his leanings towards various poets, ;. one gets a valuable index to his music, valuable ; not only to the critic and to the appreciator, but : ".j also to the interpreter of the songs and the ac- companist. -l|| Cyril Scott's choice wanders over an immense field from the Scotch Lullaby of Walter Scott to the lays of W. R. Patten trans- lated from the Greek. The two poets who have the most impelled Cyril Scott's responsive muse to utterance are Ernest Dowson and Rosamund Marriott Watson. In Dpwson's Villanelle of the Poet's Road, Love's Aftennath, A Song of Arcady, Pierrot and Moonmaiden, and many others of his lays, Scott has indeed found him- self moved to some of his finest expressions. Mrs. Watson makes a no less powerful appeal to THE SONGS 111 him. The Unforeseen, Autumn's Lute, Invo- cation, Prelude and Nocturne too musical in themselves for many composers to attempt the task successfully have found in Cyril Scott an interpreter of rare delight. Herbert A. Giles' translations from the Chinese have also caught the composer's mood, and in the Two Chinese Songs, Waiting and A Picnic, we find the actual counterparts in lyrics of the moods of the Piano Concerto, the Poppies, &c. In all these poets it is as if Cyril Scott found his own soul-states faithfully mirrored. The deli- cate, sad grace of Dowson, the strong, rugged, emotion of Walt Whitman, the quaint sim- plicity of older poets like George Darley, and the delicate other-world romance of Dante Gabriel Rossetti appeal almost equally to him. In his wide eclectic choice of poems he reveals an unerring instinct, and he does not make the common mistake of thinking that every poem by a favourite poet is equally good. But perhaps the most interesting songs are those few in which the composer sets to music his own words, such as Two Poems, Voices of Vision, Willows, &c. These thoughts raise the most significant ques- ' tions as to the coincidence of contemporary moods in the various arts. Such an investiga- tion would be no less fruitful than a philosophical 112 CYRIL SCOTT enquiry into the close analogy between the various modern tendencies which arise at the same time in different countries, varying only in national colouring and idiom but coinciding in essence. CHAPTER IX THE VIOLIN WORKS UNQUESTIONABLY one of Cyril Scott's greatest works is his Sonata for Violin and Piano, which we have briefly dealt with in Chapter V. This was written between the years 1908 and 1910. It is in his most vigorous style, full of fine themes marshalled with a wonderful power and arrayed in gorgeous harmony. It is essentially a work for artists of the first rank and is thoroughly mod- ern from the first bar to the last. Shortly afterwards, in 1911, came the Talla- hassee Suite, dedicated to Zimbalist. Despite the title, the only movement possessing the " nigger feeling " to a marked extent is the last. It is very diatonic and therefore very unlike Scott ; the first theme must surely be a genuine Southern States folk-tune, whilst the Allegro "5 116 CYRIL SCOTT con spirito is glorified "ragtime." In this re-; spect, the piece justifies its title, and the Negro Air and Danse make a splendid foil for the ex- quisite musings of the first movement, Bygone^ Memories (a reverie for muted violin), and alsoi; for the second, a dolce far niente Allegretto,^ composed, as it were, whilst lazily lying in the prairie grass After Sundown. The technical re- quirements of this Suite do not make very great demands on either of the players, and it is in the 1 composer's best "non-tonal" style. The three pieces of Opus 73 (dedicated to Paul Stoeving) belong to the year 1910. The Elegie is a fine melodic outpouring into a perfectly; finished mould. Cast on simple ternary lines, the violin has the chief melody at first ; when this is taken over by the piano, the violin soars above .with a new melody equally spontaneous and tained. The middle portion rightly accords with - the mood of the whole. It is rare to find Scott taking up the Valse form, but he is entirely suc- cessful in retaining his characteristic style in the second number of this set, Valse triste. The meaning of the curious reference to a well-known theme with an entirely diatonic treatment is not quite clear. The Romance is particularly charming with its gently swaying harmonies, its picturesque epi- THE VIOLIN WORKS 117 sode (a fine piece of artistry), and its beautifully balanced phrasing. 1 The tiro pieces of 1911 reveal the folksong influence to which we have already referred. The delicacy of the Cherry Eipe setting, and the rich harmonic dress given to the Gent le Maiden (an old Irish Air), are unique in violin literature. . These two pieces are great favourites with John Dunn, the English violinist. Of the Deux Preludes I. prefer the Danse (dedicated to Miss Daisy Kennedy). It is very difficult, and owes its origin to that characteristic of Scott in this impish gambolling mood the repetition of an arabesque in contrary motion standing it on its legs and on its head alternately, as it were. The Poem which is freely modu- latory, rather than "non-tonal," appears to commence in E flat and to end in A flat. This brings us to two of the loveliest of Scott's works the Sonnets, published in 1914. In the first one in C, over a characteristic accompani- ment of distant bell-like tones in sixths wander- ing about mostly in steps of a fourth, the violin sings contentedly, the mute throwing a roman- tic twilight feeling over the whole. The second melody is of equal beauty and the swaying tonali- 1 The " sharp " to the " A " in the final bars is intended for the " F." CYRIL SCOTT Jltfefrafb. motto modenxto. t ftotln consenting. - Xr j'i ties at the close are of exquisite sweetness. Played with the requisite delicacy of intimate feeling, it invariably arouses a keen desire for its repetition. Sonnet No. II in E major has the same note of charming intimacy, and has in addition, an episode of indescribable weirdness it must be heard for it refuses to be put into words ; but if it is true that in lyric verse the Sonnet is the THE VIOLIN WORKS 119 purest, the most difficult and the most restrained form of poetry, then these two pieces of Scott justly deserve this exacting title. Cyril Scott is universally known in the world of song and piano music, and a wide and speedy recognition of his violin and orchestral composi- tions is much to be desired. And this for many reasons. Here in England and in America, our appreciation of him has too long been confined to particular cliques, whereas his works cover the whole range of musical instruments, and fine as his smaller pieces are, a composer should surely be judged by his greater works, or at any rate by a broad assessment of his complete output and not by a mere part of it. The Violin works in particular well deserve the wide recognition which must come to them in time ; for Scott is peculiarly intimate with the Violin tone ; not only does he handle all the older violin technique freely and nimbly but he has brought many new devices and effects into the combination. His pieces will not commend themselves to the old-fashioned violinist who expects the pianist to play the Cinderella to him, to keep his few simple chords well in the back- ground, to pause servilely whilst he gambles through a long and meaningless cadenza and to gallop madly home with the postludial chords. 120 - , v *|: CYRIL SCOTT ^ There are no " fireworks " with Scott ; but there is plenty of technique required. Far from being; a humble servitor, the pianist has equal rights with the violinist ; the two interests are perfectly^ combined and unified. The construction each of these pieces is wonderfully welded into : | one whole. In other words they are duets, andl not solos with accompaniment. What a relief it- is to the artistically-minded to hear -violin musical of this order! Why should not violin music be just as artistic as that for the orchestra, the pianos or any other instrument? The violinist who is making the first acquaint-; ance with Cyril Scott's string music should first take up the two melodies, Cherry Ripe and The Gentle Maiden (the violin part is quite diatonic),^ and then he may pass to the three pieces of Opus - 73, Elegy, Valse triste and Romance (they are; fairly diatonic). The Tallahassee Suite will be the next step, as although fairly profuse in chro-^ matics it is still "tonal." We pass into the - "non-tonal" style with the Two Sonnets and / the Deux Preludes whilst the Sonata should ^ only be attempted by artists of the first rank.-;g| A solitary contribution for Flute and Piano, ^ Scotch Pastoral, may be mentioned here. It ., was published by Hansen of Christiania in^ 1914 and belongs to the order of the Violin^ THE VIOLIN WORKS 121 works, the Gentle Maiden, the Elegy, the .Ro- mance, and the Two Sonnets. There is little that is Scotch, though much that is Scottian, in the treatment of the two themes Ye bonnie braes and the Strathspey. As for the flute part, it suffices to say that the instrument is a great favourite with Cyril Scott, and that this piece always does " come off" in a remarkable way. HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY CHAPTER X HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY As the heading implies, this Chapter will be somewhat technical, and the reader is fore- warned that a certain amount of technical terms cannot be avoided. If the reader is little con- cerned with this side of music he will probably elect to skip over this Chapter, and he will cer- tainly have the author's hearty concurrence in such a course. At the same time, the book would not be com- plete if some consideration of this side of Cyril Scott's art were not included. The composer is so thorough going in his pur- suit of newness and his careful avoidance of all that is obvious and banal, that his originality ex- tends to matter as well as to manner, to form (thpugh here not so completely) as well as to texture. But nowhere is his inventiveness more striking perhaps than in his use of harmony, for Cyril Scott is undoubtedly the richest har- monist we possess. 25 126 CYRIL SCOTT The merely casual observer too readily couples up Scott's harmonic st) T le with that of the brilli- ant French Impressionist, Claude Debussy, But the first examination of Scott's work shows that his treatment is quite different, and thoroughly characteristic only of himself. Whereas the French master follows too closely along the scien- tific lines of overtones often to the extent of mere mannerism Scott derives his harmony through altogether different channels. It would be difficult to find such a rich and lusty passage in the French composer's works as the following (from the Jungle Book) and such are very com- mon with Scott : Nor could many of the musical passages which we have already quoted, if any, be mistaken for Debussy. Scott carries his harmony further into new fields, for the simple reason that he is not tied down to the scientific laws of acoustics as is the HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 127 French master, and he secures in consequence an endless variety ; whereas Debussy frequently seems as though he cannot get away from a few favourite arrangements of "dominant ninths" and certain "whole tone scale" effects. Scott's harmony is never cloying but always vital, opalescent and varied in hue, and his many effects of chord colour are due entirely to the deli- cate accuracy of his hearing. Not only are his chords delicious in their sequential connection, but almost each one is a gem of euphony in itself. In no particular does the genius of Cyril Scott seem to be more evident than in this matter of harmonic texture. Harmony is of prime importance with Scott's music and the quotation of a melodic fragment without the full harmony would be almost a wil- ful representation of him. Although he has gone through a succession of harmonic styles, his harmonic technique did not unfold in a consecu- tive way. His work cannot be divided into periods, but distinct stages w r ill be noticed. From the some- what ordinary productions of his primary stage, he seems to have stepped almost immediately, at least so far as his published works go, to the com- plex style of such pieces as Dagobah and the Chinese Songs. Then came his non-tonal 128 CYRIL SCOTT period the musical language of the Concerto, the Scherzo and the Quintet. Later the influ- ence of folk-tunes made itself felt in his modern settings for diatonic melodies. He himself explains his non-tonal style, as be- ing derived from regarding each chord as though it were in a separate key, and certainly this view helps one materially in quickly grasping such pieces as the Scherzo and the song Voices of Vision. For his harmony is chordal rather than contrapuntal, to be regarded vertically rather than horizontally. We find very few passages like the following from his Concerto : JSL HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 129 where the harmony rims on a horizontal plane. His chords are beautifully tinted with added notes and by unusual arrangements. Nor is it only beauty that he seeks in his chord, but pungency, even acidity, and real emotional power. Take the following phrase from Over the Prairie, and note the curious effect of the se- quence of chords : From the purely technical point of view, this delicate shading of his harmony is his most salient characteristic. Then again, the scale which he most favours is one very much like the chromatic scale with every note equally free. His harmonic system agrees with his scale, and he does not mind very much how he spells his chords ; for he does not point, like Scriabin and Busoni, towards a system of third and quarter tones. His harmony owes much to the use of other scales too, exotic 130 CYRIL SCOTT ones, modal, mediaeval, and Eastern ; and he inclines very little to thte whole-tone scale, which, by the way, came from the East (the Siamese) through the Russians (chiefly Dargo- misky and Musorgsky). The love of bell-tones is no new thing, but few composers, if any, have produced such entranc- ing effects as those curious combinations con- sisting chiefly of fourths which we find in the Piano Concerto, at the end of the Diatonic Study, and elsewhere, especially in Bells (Poems). rit HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 131 Sometimes these bell effects cause a strange creaking of enharmonics, as in the Cavatina. (I) The pedal-figure is turned to fine use in the Irish Reel, Pierrette, &c. 132 CYRIL SCOTT *$ 2* EB & H j f 9* p0co *franquilfo What harmonic metamorphoses may happen to a simple diatonic theme of Scott is well shown by one of the chief themes in the Concerto : HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 133 The same theme also furnishes us with a fine use of chords in which the fourths predominate. 184 CYRIL SCOTT Occasionally his melodic outline bears a strong resemblance to that of the Russian Scriabin : Odoe'f ^ te-* 3 c " J J but Scott's treatment of the theme is altogether different. Here is one of his harmonizations : ^ ] If . 5 . ft I J f /Hb j - \ tf B .f- to 2 \t/ .Jr ^ k^ . * * motto ^* if espress. + '+-: f* f- (TS* ^ ] JT^ ^ I / M JC Z2 2 * r r .. zirzz: HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 135 Such passages as the following, in which the broken fourths play a prominent part, are pecu- liarly characteristic of Scott : Then again, he has the capacity for writing melodies of a wonderfully sustained length as al- ready said. Take for example the opening sub- ject of the Quintet (forty-one bars long) or the second (cantilena theme) in the last movement in the Violin Sonata. One annotator has observed 186 CYRIL SCOTT that the melody seems to emerge from his music as its flower and ecstasy, rather than as the source of it; and that when it comes, it has "a syllabic intensity which differs from the moulded phrase." But this impression only comes about because with Scott ^ melody and harmony are conceived as one whole and inseparable thing a fact much less frequently the case with many composers, than is generally supposed. And the intensity is only "syllabic" to those unaccus- tomed to such a free and independent treatment of the so-called chromatic notes ; for Scott is cer- tainly as great as a melodist as he is original as a harmonist. His use with the arabesque again is highly characteristic. The charm of this weaving of patterns in music extends right back to the medi- eval musicians with their intense liking for end- less twisting convolutions in the plainsong. An arabesque in music is a fanciful patterning of notes which aims at pleasing the hearer on its own account, just as the flamboyant tracery of Gothic architecture pleases and interests the eye. It must be something more than a mere arpeggio and in its full glory should have one or more convolutions like the twinings of a convol- vulus. It plays a very great part in Scott's music, turning up first in the form of the little HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 137 trill in the Blackbird 9 s Song, then in the tintin- abulations of the bell-figures in No. 3 of the Poems, assuming great dimensions in the Rain- bow Trout, and it is even responsible for the long sinuous trailing of the melody in the Diatonic Study. The rich foliation in the Second Piano Suite owes just as much to this device as does the realistic curvetting of the little wavelets and the swish of the water in Sea Marge; whereas the scintillating cadenza of the Prelude Solenelle owes its origin to it just as much as does the gentle curving of the Danse Languor 'euse, Opus 74. His love of arabesquing in music is also re- sponsible for one of his most bewildering effects his use of shifting tonalities in the bass under a treble pattern technically called a "pedal fig- ure.' ' We see this in Bells (No. 3 of the Poems) ; but perhaps the most remarkable example of it is where it is used in conjunction with the unso- phisticated Irish Reel, from which \ve have al- ready quoted. In his treatment of the piano- forte too we find him equally original. One of his greatest effects is secured by treating the piano as a large dulcimer ; the notes then have a star-like independence and luminosity which al- lows but little apparent melodic connection. I believe he is getting already a little dissoci- 138 CYRIL SCOTT ated from the piano keyboard as a channel of ex- pression. The orchestra has his love, and he is turning his eyes towards fresh fields to conquer. We have more than once talked on the won- derful possibilities of the modern organ with its tonal wealth and new expressive powers, and probably it will claim some of his attention in the near future. With the orchestra again, he is careful to avoid the obvious. Where a conventional composer would use three horns he employs say, two low flutes and a solo viola (muted) ; and thus he ob- tains the exact tint for the archaic feeling of La Belle Dame sans Merci. But he can touch also the highest lights \vith the most exhilarating ef- fects ; witness the clever assimilation of the or- chestration to the timbre of the pianoforte in the Concerto, \vhere harp, celesta, and companella ef- fects are made so many auxiliaries to establish intercourse on equal terms with the orchestra. His fastidious taste in the choice of instruments always keeps him far from the shoal on which so many composers get stranded the love of mam- moth orchestras with their appalling noise. For the Concerto, for instance, a very moderate selec- tion suffices : 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 1 oboe, timpani, harp, and the usual strings. It is a matter of surprise to me to hear people HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 139 say occasionally that the music of Cyril Scott is lacking in form and construction. To my mind he is far too conservative with form, but this is more particularly the case with his shorter pieces. To my mind the simple ternary design a- b- a- is far too naive ; a mere reference to the first sub- ject rather than a full repetition, satisfies my sense of symmetry and balance. "Cyril Scott," writes Perc}^ Grainger, " com- poses rather like a bird sings, with a full positive soul behind him, drawing greater inspiration from the mere physical charm of actual sound than from any impetus from philosophical pre- occupations or the dramatic emotions of objective life. Thus while Strauss is largely concerned with philosophical themes and Debussy apparently often full of pictorial suggestions and influences, it is mainly sounds (how they sound rather than what they express) that coax utterance from Cyril Scott's touching and poetical emotional self. This preponderance of the purely musical ele- ments in his art strikes me as a result that might almost be expected of the conditions of music in England" Nevertheless, although this opini- on of Grainger is true, it is only sometimes so, for Scott has often produced his best work when depicting pictorial or emotional ideas as in the Poems for instance. 140 CYRIL SCOTT We may fittingly finish this cursory survey With Debussy *s estimate : " Cyril Scott is one of the rarest artists of the present generation. His rhythmical experiments, his technique, even his style of writing, may at first sight appear strange and disconcerting. Inflexible severity, however, compels him to carry out to the full his particular system of aes- thetics, and his only. The music unfolds itself somewhat after the manner of those Japanese Rhapsodies which, instead of being confined within traditional forms, are the outcome of im- agination displaying itself in innumerable arab- esques, and the incessantly changing aspects of the inner melody are an intoxication for the ear are, in fact, irresistible. All those qualities are more than sufficient to justify confidence in this musician so exceptionally equipped." 142 CYRIL SCOTT /at. eci. Timp. Cc! fjfa s *" /*</ g ~ f KiJ. C'flti. Example of Orchcstralk HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 143 _ 11 ivtth 31 4e-efrum3ttcft3 &.=3P. (/row the Pianoforte Concerto) THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER CHAPTER XI THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER As with Edgar Allan Poe, so with Cyril Scott, 44 poetry is a passion " as well as the sweetest of all recreations. To leave music with its intri- cacies and turn to verse is a rest and a delight which he can find through no other medium. Moreover it enables him to express ideas and philosophies which the more abstract medium of music can never do. And yet, curiously enough, he feels that were he not a musician, he could not be a poet, and were he not a poet he would compose a very different sort of music. The two are blended and inseparable. After all, the first requisite of poetry is music, and a true poem must first appeal to the ear, before the reader will be lured on to search for its meaning. But as the trouble with much music is its ob- viousness, so is it with poetry its sound is too obvious, its music insufficiently subtle, even when M7 148 CYRIL SCOTT its meaning is of deep import. And so when Scott first started writing verse he felt that a new music in the line and stanza was the goal to be striven for : and all the conventionalists who tried to prove the error of his ways, could not turn him from this method. Destiny put a teacher in his way in the shape of a French poet, Charles Bonnier, already mentioned in our biographical chapter (friend of Mallarme), and the most modern of the modern, whose prin- ciple was contained in the precept always find a new rhythm; let your ideas always come to you in the shape of a new melody in words. And this precept, Cyril Scott attempted to carry out, because it seemed to him the only right one ; as forcible in poetry as it is in music. The first verses, written at the age of 21, contained no philosophy of life : they were mere fancies, mere pictures, mere songs, mere word- music, but they went to the creating of a form which proved useful later on for the expression of ideas. Looking back at The Shadows of Silence and the Songs of Yesterday (his first little book of verse), he found most of the lyrics, mere "songs without words," and only allowed a few to be reprinted including the two follow- ing, which he set to music : THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 149 WILLOWS These mournful trees caressed in the ancient poet's dreams, That weep their green unending tears along the silent streams ; Christened by the waste waters, sighing in the breeze, Willows weeping, wailing, where the world lulls at ease, Willows weeping, wailing; Nature's sorrow-stricken trees. Maidens stray along the daisied banks and sigh and sing, Plucking from the daisied grass the dainty buds of spring ; Where the lovers clasp hands and wend their flow'ry way, W T illows weeping, wailing at the words they say, Willows weeping wantonly because the world is gay, While they Are sad and grey. EVENING MELODY Eve, warm and sad, as the last light shimmers, And the pallid flowers sigh in the soft air; Love, found at last, through her calm soul glimmers : Perfumes wafting, breezes doling scents new and fair. Ah, chaste as morn, there she walks on, smiling; In the evening-hallowed grove, with a pale hand, Plays on her lute, thus the dear time whiling, Playing softly, virgin music; love's sweet command. So as he comes, and her mild eyes darken, And the tender shadows glide into veiled night; All thrills for him, and his strained ears hearken ; Music swaying, music dying, Love's end's delight. The second volume, The Grave of Eros, and the Book of Mournful Melodies, with Dreams from the East, was much in the same vein, the versification being more elaborate still, as in : 150 CYRIL SCOTT BUTTERCUPS Overspread with a chaste aureal veiling of buttercups, velvet and golden, The early summer meades exhale an amber caress, Presenting a cool capricious carpet, to which our listless eyes are beholden, And the sighs of olden Ages full in languid loveliness. The streamlet consoles kindly the willows, with waters refreshing, that glisten With smiles, and stroke their sombre stumps of plumage divest, Entoning a tuneful rhythm of rapture, that causes our straining ears to listen, And my tears to christen Silently your head upon my breast. What sand in the old hour-glass niters its wearisome journey, reminding Again the distant chimes to sound their wonted regret; From every terrestrial toil disburdened, we follow the brooklet's beam-kissed winding, And our dream-tryst finding, Faint within a slumbrous oubliette. That the critics should say he was unable to scan, was hardly a matter for surprise, since his scansion was purposely unconventional, but that they should say he was influenced by Swinburne ; seeing that he had hardly read a line of that poet, and what he had read did not appeal to him, was at least interesting if untrue. Strange to say, the only poets that really appealed to him at that time were Ernest Dowson and Stefan THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 151 George. Even Baudelaire whom he translated as a tour de force (inspired to do so by the encour- agement of Arthur Symons), only appealed to him in a very limited degree ; for, though he went through what is called the decadent phase, he confessed he only did so half-heartedly and with no conviction. Indeed, whatever little decad- ence he admired was soon to be dispelled by an entire change in his outlook the coming into contact with Oriental philosophy and theosophy at about the age of 26 ; an attitude which tinctured all his creative activity especially his verse. For he regards Yoga (as the Science is called) as the most vital and most absorbing thing in life ; embracing all its activities and inspiring them with a meaning of unfathomable profundity. Without such an outlook, at once a science and a religion (or rather the rationale of all religions) and a philosophy as well, life seems to him devoid of meaning ; a mere drifting along the pathway of time, one knows not whither. Thus from the day of that change, he used poetry no longer as a means solely to fabricate music in words, but to express what he considered the highest goal of life, and the third book, The Voice of the Ancient, 1 contained his attempts at this outpouring of the soul. lj. M. Watkins, London. 152 CYRIL SCOTT From the pessimism (prompted by the spirit of agnosticism) contained in the first book of verse, he now turned to an exactly antithetical note, and wrote a poem on Vedanta, one of the most ancient systems of Indian philosophy. Its content is, that all consciousness is in reality one, and that its diversity is only in name and form and not in absolute truth. For all men are potentially supermen, not in the material sense of Nietzsche but in the spiritual sense ; and the object of all philosophy, art, and religion is to apprise humanity of this fact in order that humanity may become perfect and undying. Indeed, when mankind realises this, according to Scott, it must perforce see the world, with all its frets, as something entirely different ; for as the poem referred to, says : What are the world's foolish toys, and death's ephemeral sorrows, Seeming endless, yet by the Endless, fleeter than light- ning's flashes. Think that never yesterday was, that there are no to- morrows, Then future fiends are void and past despairs are empty ashes ! In a word, "live in the Eternal," as the Theosophist puts it ; for only 4 by so doing is true happiness possible. This Vedanta poem is followed by others called Dreams after THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 153 Death, giving a faint adumbration of what awaits the soul when the prison of the body has been cast away and man finds himself in Devachan or the Mental Plane. For on this plane, nearer to Unity of Consciousness, he knows himself : Not born to stranger's land no plane that asks a parting From former earth-engendered loves; Here every tone accords, the spirit knows no thwarting, And love returns enriched to him who loves. 1 But this is not all, for it is a plane on which the sublimest happenings of earth, those mo- ments of deeply spiritual love-happiness are not only lived over again, but enhanced to a continuous glorification, as we get in another poem : All else is paled, we only live that moment, Expanded now unto Eternity. Upon the sacred mirror of the Spirit graven, One moment's life is endless ecstasy. 2 Nevertheless although on such a plane of con- sciousness " man perceives that ' life was never Life,' ' yet it is not essential to leave the earth- sphere in order to experience what Edward Car- penter and others have called Cosmic Conscious- ness, still less the super-earthly consciousness of l The Awakening. Ibid. 2 Ibid. 154 CYRIL SCOTT the mental plane. Let the mind but suppress its grosser modifications, and the subtler hidden side of Nature, the "speech of the silence" makes itself perceptible. As another poem puts it: And through the calm the Voice of Evening came, It was not in the roses, perfumes, nor the balmy bank, It rose not from the stream, nor had it shape or Sound or name, It rose from Nowhere and to Nowhere sank. 1 But to hear this subtler speech of Nature, we must suppress all the more turbulent emotions ; jealousy, anger, intolerance and the like must be banished from the soul. And so in the same book, we get a section headed Discourses which shows what the attitude of a superman would be towards those he loves : an attitude utterly devoid of the sense of possession which must be regarded as the root of most misery. It was about his 31st year that Cyril Scott finished another book, The Vales of Unity,* and in this he ventured into longer poems, one being in the form of a ballad, in which he attempted to show how even a courtesan can be a most saintly character. In fact, to disclose good and 1 Ibid. Hymns to Autumn and Evening. 2 David Nutt. THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 155 beauty in all things must, with Cyril Scott, be the aim of the poet, and the awakening of more tolerance and charity in others should ever be one of his missions however unconsciously he may perform it. The old catch-phrase, " I 9 art pour /'art," has really little meaning ; for art has a definite function, however much wiseacres may try to deny the fact : it does undoubtedly dis- close beauties in things which would otherwise remain hidden ; and thus it elevates the mentali- ties of mankind. A Dead Poet, the poem that follows, shows that tendency in men to enjoy the fruits of the artist's creativeness and yet chide him for the imperfection of his character. Instead of weighing the good actions that the genuine artist accomplishes against the weakness of his char- acter, which often hurts nobody but himself, people are often too prone to forget this, and in return for all the beauty he gives them, for- give him nothing. They fail to realise that con- ventions can mean very little to the artist, be- cause conventionality arises either from mental laziness or fear of what others will say and think. Moreover the true genius must ever have the capacity to feel deeper love and emotions than the man in the street, for it is the very expression of these emotions which engenders poetry : 156 CYRIL SCOTT He took the flowers of love to breathe their sweetness, And shape the soulful songs of his endeavour; His fervent heart forgetful of their fleetness, They faded, that his songs might live for ever. And ye ye bore not with him thankless, cruel, Ye took the harvest that his life's toil rendered; But would have robbed him of the vital fuel, And quelled the furnace that his muse engendered. The soul of the true artist must be gauged by what he writes. As set forth in the latest volume : He is his songs and not his earth-seen life Of love and living, peacefulness or passion's strife; For what he lived was only flesh, but what he sang was soul, His life the shadowy half, his songs the whole. Not what this flesh enacts of foolsome deeds, Nor how oft netherwards it falls, nor yet succeeds; But how divinely high to soul-sublimity it yearns, That is the truth-crowned symbol that discerns. 1 In other words, the capacity and love for high ideals shows the nature of the soul ; the height, so to say, of the thoughts manifesting the true worth of the character. The final poem in this section of the book is again connected with the portrayal of a per- sonality that mysterious being known as an l The Celestial Aftermath. Prelude (Chatto & Windus). THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 157 Adept, Master or Mahatma (whatever name occultism chooses to call him). The name taken in this case is a Rosier ucian, an Initiate in a secret society, 1 founded in the fourteenth cen- tury. There are people who doubt that such Adepts exist, with powers that to ordinary in- telligence must seem miraculous. Yet the poet urges this incredulity is hardly to be wondered at ; for such men live either retired lives, or else hide their spirituality from the eyes of the or- dinary man, revealing it alone to their few dis- ciples. These men, in fact, influence the world from the higher planes, and work mostly on those planes, asking nothing in return, having lost all desire for money, fame or sexual love. Their one love is the great orphan, Humanity, and their one aim to help it along the path of spiritual evolution. Perhaps the most significant lines in this poem are those which exhibit the tendency of human nature to try and convince knowledge by ignor- ance, for There are those who would attempt with strained endea- vour, To sapiently deny him truths that 'neath his gaze, unfold : As if indeed the nescience born of blindness ever Could vanquish knowledge born of that which seeing eyes behold. l Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. Robertas de Fluctibus. See The Rosicrucians. H. C. Jennings (Rider). 158 CYRIL SCOTT So that the poet exhorts humanity : Let be at rest the oratory of your unseeing; Wise is the man who knoweth his unknowing and is mute ! The second section of this book is called The Garden of Soul-Sympathy, and is a collection of shorter poems. The Envoi of this section was used in the piano pieces entitled Poems (Schott). As to the last section headed Confidences, there is here set forth a eulogy of friendship in a poem written in rather unusual versification. Friendship in the poet's eyes is one of the sweet- est and highest joys of human life. Ah, many loves may glide Across the surface of the soul '**-' To part or to abide, Yet always, and at the end, Friend seeketh friend. For the poem goes on to say that friendship is as A god who doles alone The mildly sweet, but ne'er the sore. And solely for his own Demandeth never those who dwell Beneath his spell. More fair than that we call, In witless dearth of wisdom, love, Which truly asketh all, And somewhat gives, but would enchain Its glowing swain. THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 159 For this bestows the best, In that it loves and letteth love, Not says with pride's behest Love me alone, or else depart From out my heart. No poorer at its close Than at its dawn, such hearts embrace; A tranquil way it flows, And should it wither, leaves no corse Of charred remorse. There are several more poems in this section, but space does not permit of their being dealt with. The mysticism contained in the final one entitled Retrospect is however worthy of note, since it does much to explain the title of the whole book, viz., The Vales of Unity. Here the poet in his meditations looks back on all the fleeting beauties of the year, beginning with the springtide : I wander back the journeyed way Unto the earliest feathered mummer, Who hails the entire song of summer Within his musicful array. Then he goes on to review all his joys and loves and sorrows, but with the unmoved vision of retrospection : And dews of ancient weepings waft Their bitterness-absterged sweetness, And love descends in Heaven's completeness, To take my heart in joyful haft. 160 CYRIL SCOTT I'd seen the suns of glory set, I'd seen both dawning and decaying; And, what in Springtide wandered maying, Sink into Autumn's oubliette. Till finally he comes to that state where with the soul's eternal vision " he sees beyond the shadows of transition a substance that endures" ; and not only that, but he senses the sublimely mystical truth that each individual soul is a part, and absolutely essential to the World-soul. And never a Spring were without me, And without me there were no Summer; There is no goer and no comer, For all is one vast Unity. In other words, the soul is in reality perfect, eternal and one with the All-soul. We now pass on to the last published book, The Celestial Aftermath, A Springtide of the Heart and Far-away Songs. After the Prelude, in which the poet sets forth the object of poetry in the lines among others : A poet gives that other's eyes may see: What else were working worth than this sublimity ? A long poem follows, entitled The Celestial Aftermath, being a eulogy on a few soul-inspir- ing days spent at the end of summer in har- 1 Chatto & Windus, London, 1915. THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 161 monious accord with friends, in the English Lake country. Thus it begins : What earth-foretasted shimmer of Heaven's oneness folded, For us within its ambient arms the Summer's faltering heart, And from its farewell sighs a soul entwining sweetness moulded, Giving to each a joy to be his aidful part Across the bleak, brown hills of Autumn's ending And the Winter's shrewd and passionate smart ? It was this poem which called forth a long article by Ernest Newman, contending that Cyril Scott wrote poetry which made no sense, because the things he expressed therein were " inexperienceable." Such an outlook would negate a large proportion of poetry, for the simple reason that he who has no mystic experiences himself, will deny that others can have them. Space does not permit of our en- tering into all the details of this Celestial After- math or of the other poems which form the sub- ject-matter of this latest book. But, as the author claims, much of the outlook set forth in them might best be expressed by a para- dox, Ideal-Realism ; the latter word being how- ever shorn of any realistic flavour such as we meet with in the writings of a Zola or a Gautier. Neither the sordid nor the unpleasantly physical 162 CYRIL SCOTT find a place in Scott's realism ; it is merely that he does not blind his eyes to the truth (or what he thinks to be the truth) respecting certain emotional phases of life and love. He thus de- picts real emotions, which is realism in a sense, but contrives to beautify them, and this beauti- fication is what constitutes the idealism. The import of the various poems is set in a frame-work which that remarkable stylist of English, George Moore, regards as a requisite of true poetry, namely, " a framework of flowers and all fair things." Indeed, such verses as the following, come up to what George Moore on reading them considered the highest standard of beauty : An alcove hung with smilax, And sweet with roses from more southern fields, Embowers us 'mid fragrance of near lilacs, Which the soft garden yields. A far-off flute has faded Behind the gently sunset-haloed hill, Where evening birds erewhile have serenaded The dreamful daffodil. Some of the poems entitled Far-away Songs are word-pictures : Of Spring, Of Spring at Au- tumntide, Of Autumn, Of Warm Winter Days, Snow-scape, Ballad of an Angry Summer, A Sussex Village, and so forth. One, however, called A Lake-Side Cemetery contains more than THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 163 mere pictorial word-music, for it touches on the philosophy of Death. This portrays that inconsistency often found in the Christian community, of mourning over (with all its lugubrious accessories) those who have passed out of the body. The writer shows here the deep but unrecognised distinction between be- lief and real knowledge. Thus he reflects : I see them now those travailed ones, I, glad initiate of death's rare meadows: They wander 'mid the cypressed shadows To deck with buds the urns of bronze; So wearied, yet so mighty in Belief, Where but one gleam of Knowledge had disbanded grief. The poet is therefore an optimist in the more correct, yet not extreme, sense of the word. Even death is not sorrowful to him who under- stands it, for in truth, ignorance is the cause of most sorrows. Lamentations are only a form of selfishness. Let the mind but identify itself with the truly important things of life (he philosophizes), especially in the sense of the eternal things, and there is no room for mourn- ing over departed ones. It is quite beyond the limits of this book to dwell in any further detail upon the wide range of Cyril Scott's imaginative conceptions as a poet. The reader needs only to refer to his works 164 CYRIL SCOTT to become acquainted with the intellectual wealth and prodigality of Scott's genius. There is more of the seer than of the prophet in his poetry. The simplicities of life, which make up the rou- tine of existence for the majority of men and women, have little attraction for him. The passions and emotions with which these poems mostly deal are not elemental. They verily exist, but they are the result of a chain of influences social, intellectual, aesthetic and religious- stretching back a thousand years and more ; and Cyril Scott proves himself a genius in being able to lay them bare for our inspection. His knife has a very keen and delicate edge. He probes deep, and in such a poem, for example, as Dis- courses in The Voice of the Ancient (page 41), he opens up, with marvellously clever touch, the profound secrets of the psychical nerve tissue of that curious creation a human soul. The style of these poems seems to indicate the point of view from which the author looks at truth. It is clearly formed to suit his highest and most predominant thought. As might be expected, the style is the man calm, even, musi- cal, and mystic. Like other writers of genius, Scott is sometimes below his usual level. Then his ideas are more commonplace, and his style becomes mere mannerism. But that is not often. THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 165 He is mostly the true literary artist who KNOWS some things about the Eternal Self and about human relations, which he holds with a fine poise of power, not as the conclusions of the doc- trinaire but as the dynamics of his life. He touches the deeper experiences of exist- ence and lifts them to the light where others can see ; he paints in glowing words the incar- nate personality of man's eternal brooding, questioning desire. The soul of these poems is in the lines : Love is its own reward, and yields its own returning To him who swerves not 'neath its stern assay, Nor asks for tribute or repay. The Voice of the Ancient, p. 60. I have dwelt at some length on the poetry of Cyril Scott, as he tells me there are times when he feels a much better poet than a musician, which is saying a great deal ; and thus to omit dissertation of his poetry would be to present an incomplete view of his many-sided personality. CONCLUSION CHAPTER XII CONCLUSION AT present, the general run of people know but one Cyril Scott, the refined creator of novel and interesting salon pieces, and songs. This is no belittlement of his art, for these pieces are in- variably of the highest artistic type, and their inclusion in any programme at once creates a high standard and a refined atmosphere. But very few people suspect the existence of many other sides of his fascinating personality. Musi- cians, however, at least those watchful of the progress of the art, and those more especially conversant with the concert rooms of France, Italy and Germany, know another and a far greater Cyril Scott the composer of the Or- chestral Passacaglias, the Quintet, the Piano- forte Concerto, and many other large works, seldom heard in England. Still, only a few of those even realise the full extent of his man} T - 170 CYRIL SCOTT sidedness. He has innumerable modes, and many of those even are richly subdivided. Take, for instance, his Eastern vein. With Bantock and Saint-Saens, this stops with the extreme vividness and variety of colour the pictorial side. Saint-Saens must have travelled in the Orient only over the routes of the personally conducted parties ; he probably took his French chef with him. He certainly gives us in his Algerian Suite, Africa, Melodies persanes, Sam- son and Delilah, etc., only the lightest of surface- painting. But Cyril Scott, without even visit- ing the Orient, breathes the very philosophy and occultism of the East. How he can do this, I know not. He attributes it, in his Dedication of the Egypt Impressions, to his own past Egyp- tian lives. Bantock in setting Omar Khayyam satisfies himself with depicting all the glowing colours of the Persian Poet. Cyril Scott gives the visual thing too, and goes to the very heart and soul of the matter as well, for he is deeply learned in Oriental lore, and extremely sensitive to its magic appeal. But he has the purely pic- torial side too ; or, as he would put it, writes occasionally entirely on the physical plane. Then he is more visualising than Ravel, more direct than Stravinsky. Take for instance his realistic Rikki-tiki-tavi and the Snake, his Paradise CONCLUSION 171 Birds (he himself has a vein of pure exultant carolling like the fantasias of birds). Take again the graceful, lightning-like whirling of his fascinating Rainbow-Trout and the comic clumsiness of his Elephant Dance. Even the philosophic and occult sides of his music have differentiations. The Hindu music of his Jungle Book gives quite a different feeling from the dark magic of the Sphinx, the Dagobah, and many pieces in Egypt. Then there is the Cyril Scott of the brilliant Impressionist period, somewhat closely allied to the Modern French schools of Koechlin and Florent Schmitt ; and later he gives us that remarkable style of sen- suous music-making which throws aside the last hold with the old styles the central keynote. And this brings us to another characteristic vein of his ; a mood most difficult of all to de- fine in words. It has for its basis that natural- ism which inspired our Constable alike with the French masters, Corot and Millet. These art- ists depict in no full-featured terms ; with them nothing is positive or fixed, but they " perceive" (in the words of Thomas Hardy) " how the In- definite can yet be defined." It is the pure fresh mood of early morning, the pensiveness of evening never the noontide glory which causes the souls of these artists to vibrate most 172 CYRIL SCOTT sympathetically. It was so with Chopin, but here we have the essence of things intensified. This mood is the very opposite of the vivid art of the painter Sargent, or of the composer Strauss, or the startling up-to-dateness of Augustus John or of Grainger. These men have seized upon the prevailing spirit of their age, whereas other artists, Scriabin, Debussy and Scott, converse with the Spirit of Nature herself, far from the madding crowd, in solitude and aloofness. It is the sentiment of the true landscape painter alone, of Corot and Con- stable, which these musicians possess, and which is seen in such pieces as the Tenth Sonata of Scriabin, L'apres-midi d'un faune of Debussy, the Cavatina or the Second Suite of Scott. Another of the most interesting of Cyril Scott's activities is his harmonisation of old melodies. He has* revived these old " things of beauty " and placed them in new surroundings. Such a tendency, as he has explained, is found in literature, and even in painting, since some of the Pre-Raphaelites, and such a painter as Hodler, are so near the ancient in both spirit and manner that they may be classed as revival- ists. Scott rightly holds that a thing of beauty is not a joy for ever, and thus he says in the Envoy to The Celestial Aftermath : CONCLUSION 173 All greatness needs must new device portray, And though a poet's prideful hope may perish, Yet fairest things are not a joy for aye. Now there are two ways of treating old airs from the accompanimental point of view, one being as great an anachronism as the other. The method adopted by arrangers and editors of adding as unobtrusive, uninventive and as dull an accompaniment as possible, is as great an anachronism (if we bring this idea into the connection with the matter at all) as the method of composers w r ho endeavour to put as much of their own individuality into the frame-work of the particular air they feel inspired to set ; for very few arrangers really adapt their accompani- ment to the particular period of the air in ques- tion, but (apparently without knowing it) add a sort of Mendelssohnian (or anything else popular at the time) flavour instead. As Cyril Scott says in his Philosophy of Modernism, they forget that Mendelssohn is as much an anach- ronism in connection with an old song as De- bussy is. A melody in itself is not sufficient at the present day to hold the pleasurable attention of serious musicians. As he quaintly says, it may be sufficient to hold the attention of the butcher's boy, but it has no place in the concert hall. Otherwise Donizetti would still be modern 174 CYRIL SCOTT and Verdi would not have taken over Wag- nerian accessories at the end of his career. Cyril Scott has somehow achieved an absence of tonality in setting these purely tonal things. The best instances of w r hich are to be found as already mentioned in his Passacaglia for orches- tra No. 1 (on the Irish Famine Song) and in his use of The Girl I left behind me in the piano meditation Sea-Marge. As an example of Scott's free treatment of ancient melodies, I would mention his pianoforte piece founded on the thirteenth century tune Sinner is icumen in. The composer here treats the intonation of the leading note as arbitrarily as the early medieval singers themselves would probably do. The note is B flat as often as it is B natural. The fact that the piece ends on an F major chord with a terrific glissando (including B natural) does not greatly assist the anxious enquirer after scales and tonalities. The old Welsh tune, All through the Night, and the Irish melody, The Wild, Hills of Clare, however still preserve the feeling of a steady tonic centre, although doubtless there are a few anxious moments for those who keep the more generally accepted harmonies in mind. With the violin pieces, Cherry Ripe, and the beautiful Irish air, The Gentle Maiden, the modern atmosphere or aroma, call it what you CONCLUSION 175 will, is to my mind much more successful. The violin part there confines itself to the diatonic melodies, whilst the piano supplies an emotional background of a modern order. Although I confess that some of these settings of his do not carry conviction to me, these two violin pieces seem to be ideal presentments of this novel style. There is little doubt that the music of Cyril Scott is destined to take a high place in the music of the future. And not only the music, but also the manner of it, the calmness of the musician himself, partly leading me to this conclusion. He was heralded with no fanfares ; he is afflicted with no jumbo-manias ; he demands no over- grown gargantuan orchestras or choruses, al- though his treatment of them is nearly always quite new and individual ; he has never courted the press, nor indulged in floods of advertising, covert or otherwise ; rather has he deliberately shunned publicity, and not infrequently know- ingly alienated the more conservative critics. He once said that 4 6 Fame is an evil contrivance to waste one's time. As to money-making, it is the greatest waste of time imaginable. How can anybody centre his mind on trying to write beautiful things when he is thinking of money? To make more money than the bare comforts of life demand, ought never to be the aim of the art- 176 CYRIL SCOTT ist ; if it comes his way of its own accord, that is another matter. As to winning over the critics, the more ' slated ' one is the better : to be im- mediately understood, means one is not worth understanding." It is hardly to be wondered at that a man who can write Not wise is even he who sings for bay Of future laud in lieu of present laurel, For both are but the toys of children's play. should not court publicity. " If I am worth any- thing, time will prove it ; if I am worth nothing, then all the better if my writings are not heard." And his final reflection on this matter is that Fame wastes a young man's time, and tires an old man's body, therefore Nature is not unkind when it only permits some people to be famous after their death. There is, in consequence, about his music as a whole, as about his nature, that calm and reserve, that poise and quiet confidence, which I can only liken to the chief characteristics of the music of the grandest of all musical geniuses unknown in his generation and for long afterwards, but now regarded as strikingly modern Johann Sebastian Bach. This does not imply that his music is void of vitality and of passion ; CONCLUSION 177 far from it ; for the Quintet, the Violin Sonata and many other works would at once give the lie to that statement ; but the passion and vitality is as it were not that fret and wearing passion of earth, but is of a plane where force is both intense activity and calm at the same time, paradoxical though this may sound. Conservative people will call many of the new harmonies of Cyril Scott harsh and discord- ant, yet Concord and Discord are indefinite things ; every decade sees some new combination accepted as a concord. Art is a fluid thing, the laws of which are con- tinually being modified. The old contrapuntists reckoned the fourth as a discord, nowadays we accept the dominant seventh as a concord, then comes Scriabin with his sky-scraper of fourths which he accepted as the perfect concord and the mystic chord at the same time. Old things come round again, but never quite in the same way. Just as the early English and Elizabethan com- posers need a Dolmetsch to interpret their false relations, quaint turns, and idioms, just as Wagner brought in a new school of conductors und singers, so the music of Cyril Scott demands a new type of exponents, pianists of modern ca- pacities such as Grainger, Arthur Rubinstein, William Murdoch, or Percy Waller, conductors 178 CYRIL SCOTT like Beecham or Goosens, and such exquisitely temperamental vocal interpreters as Miss Jean Waterston, Miss Maggie Teyte, Mr. Hubert Eisdell, or Mr. Gervase Elwes. Curiously enough, however, some of the very singers who one would think might be attracted to the songs have refrained from taking them up : and these, moreover, with the type of talent and voice so es- pecially suited to them. And yet, why this inces- sant outcry for good English songs when they are to hand even without the asking? True it is that each year a larger number of vocalists are recog- nising the merit of the Scott songs, but it has taken the courage and enterprise of a few more enlightened artists to bring this tardily about. Especially have we to thank Miss Grainger-Kerr, Miss Jean Waterston and Miss Beryl Freeman for actually forcing the English public to accept Cyril Scott, just as Sir Henry Wood forced the English to accept Debussy : renouncing mere love of applause for the nobler aim of introduc- ing sincere art into the concert halls. The sources of a composer's inspiration are un- doubtedly of interest, although naturally they tend, with the evolution of music, to become less special and more fundamental as time goes on. Whereas one traces the music of Chopin to the Polish dances and songs, the music of Vaughan- CONCLUSION 179 Williams, like the poetry of Walt Whitman, largely to the sea, the music of Beethoven to na- ture, of Schumann to literature, of Scriabin to colour, and so forth, it is mbre difficult to decide the sources of Cyril Scott's inspiration . To literature assuredly he owes much, and he him- self frequently turns his pen to it for relief. The close and intimate connection between his music and the poetry of his songs, too, shows what a power this sister art possesses over him. His theosophic and occult studies have also left a deep impress on his music. Doubtless too, the music of others whom he admires Wagner, Strauss, Stravinsky, Debussy, Grainger, Ravel has stimulated his muse in a healthy way. But there is a power within him which gives impulse more than any other : it is the joyful welling forth of music itself as a natural force. It often gushes out after the manner of an extemporaneous per- formance in a sheer glad carolling, a happy warbling like that of the natural song birds, out of the very joy of life itself. And surely enough this composer should have a happy time of it. Freed from harassing cares by the thoughtful action of his publishers, relieved from teaching except when he chooses, his life has had no great obstacles to cast their shadows over his radiant creativeness. Not yet at the crest of his powers, 180 CYRIL SCOTT we may reasonably look for even finer works from his pen. In an age when the whole of Europe is plunged into a turmoil of elemental strife, when the huge errors of an apparently materialistic age have brought about such dire results, the value of such idealistic and optimistic music cannot be over-estimated. In our desire to be rid of the music of the heavy German type of Bruckner, the megalomania of Mahler and the risky sanity of Schonberg, we have thrown ourselves some- what thoughtlessly into the arms of the lachry- mose Russians and at the present moment we seem inclined to swallow anything under a Slav patronymic, good, bad, or indifferent, with equal relish. Our British composers are at the least the equal of those of any other country, and should be so recognised. Perhaps this survey of Cyril Scott, the man and his music, may con- tribute its quota towards such a consummation. APPENDIX I APPENDIX 1 LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS LARGER WORKS First Symphony. First performed at Darm- stadt. (Now destroyed). Second Symphony. First performed by Sir Henry Wood. Later converted into Three Orchestral Dances and first so performed in Birmingham, conducted by the composer. Heroic Suite for Orchestra. First performed by Richter at Manchester. This work was re- garded later by the composer as immature, and withdrawn. Overture to Pelleas and Melisande. First per- formed in Frankfort. 2nd Edition re- worked from an earlier attempt. Overture to Princess Maleine with Chorus. First performed in Vienna. 2nd Edition (re- worked). Christmas Overture for Orchestra with Nativity Hymn for Chorus and Orchestra. Intended Viennese performances stopped by war. 183 184 CYRIL SCOTT Ballad of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel for baritone Solo and Orchestra. Sung by Mr. Frederic Austin. Two Passacaglias on Irish Themes for Orchestra. First performed by Beecham at a Philhar- monic Concert. Pianoforte Concerto. First given in Beecham ? s English Festival. Full Score : Augener. Rhapsody for Orchestra. Aubade for Orchestra. 2nd Edition reworked. Performed in Darmstadt, Dresden and Ber- lin. Published by Schott. La Belle Dame Sans Merci. CHAMBER MUSIC Pianoforte Quartet, Op. 16. First played by Kreisler and others at a Broadwood Concert in St. James' Hall. (Boosey). String Quartet. Performed widely in Germany by the Rebner Quartet party. Withdrawn and partly reworked. Pianoforte Quintet. 1 Performed at one of his own Concerts at Bechstein Hall. Sonata for Violin and Piano. 2 Performed in Cologne Frankfurt, Berlin, New York, &c. 1 Awaiting" publication. 2 Schott & Co. LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 185 Pianoforte Sonata. Performed widely by Moekle in Germany, Austria, Switzerland. (Elkin). Pianoforte Trio. Unpublished and discarded. Early work. Handelian Rhapsody for Piano. Early work, edited by Percy Grainger. (Elkin). SMALLER PIECES Of the earliest pieces, only a few are pub- lished : Opus 3. April Love. 4. Little Lady of my Heart (Songs). (Me Tyler). 5. No. 182, Dairy Song and Yvonne of Brittany (Boosey & Co.) 9. Daphnis and Chloe (Boosey & Co.) 20. Three Dances (Boosey & Co.) 24. Two Poems for Voice and Piano (Elkin) : (i) Voices of Vision. (ii) Willows. 25. Scherzo for Piano (Elkin). 30. (i) A Last Word (Ma Mie). Song (Boosey & Co.) (ii) There comes an end to Summer. Song (Boosey & Co.) 186 CYRIL SCOTT Opus 31. Asleep. Song (Boosey Co.) 32. Autumnal. Song ,, 33. Villanelle. Song 34. Evening Hymn. Song ,, 35. Two Pierrot Pieces ,, (i) Lento. (ii) Allegro. 30. Two Songs (Elkin) : (i) A Valediction. (ii) Sorrow. 37. Two Piano Pieces (Boosey & Co.) 88. (i) My Captain. Song (Elkin). (ii) Trafalgar. Song (Boosey & Co.) 39. Dagobah for Piano (Forsyth). Chinese Serenade. 40. (i) Solitude (Elkin). (ii) Vesperale. (iii) Chimes. 41. Impromptu (Elkin) : (i) Eileen. ) (ii) The Ballad Singer. ( (Boosey & Co.) (iii) Mary. } 43. Three Songs (Elkin) : (i) A Gift of Silence. (ii) Don't come in, Sir, please! (iii) The White Knight. 44. Missing. 45. Missing. LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 187 Opus 46. Two Chinese Songs (Elkin) : (i) (a) Waiting. (b) A Picnic. (ii) A Song of Wine. 47. Two Pieces for Piano (Elkin) : (i) Lotus Land. (ii) Columbine. 48. Missing. 49. Missing. 50. Song and Piece (Elkin) : (i) Aspodel, Sketch for Piano, (ii) Afterday Song. 52. Three Songs (Elkin) : (i) Song of London. (ii) A Roundel of Rest. (iii) A Blackbird Song. 53. Missing. 54. Summer Time (Elkin) : (i) Playtime. (ii) A Song from the East. (iii) Evening Idyll. (iv) Fairy Folk. (v) Notturno. 55. (i) Two Old English Lyrics (Elkin): (a) Lovely Kind and Kindly Loving. (b) Why so Pale and Wan? (ii) Song, "Love's Quarrel." 188 CYRIL SCOTT Opus 56. Two Songs (Elkin) : (i) A twain. (ii) Insouciance. 57. Three Songs for Piano (Elkin) : (i) Prelude. (ii) Lullaby. (iii) Scotch Lullaby. Also Two Sketches for Piano (Easy) (Elkin) (iv) Cuckoo Call. (v) Twilight Bells. 58. (i) Three Little Waltzes (Elkin) : (a) Allegro poco Scherzando. (b) Andante Languido. (c) Allegretto Gracioso. (ii) Two Alpine Sketches. (iii) Danse Negre. 59. Missing. 60. Missing. 61. Two Songs (Elkin) : (a) Serenade. (b) In a Fairy Boat. 62. Three Songs (Elkin) : (i) A Lost Love. (ii) A Vision. (iii) An Eastern Lament. 63. Sphinx for Piano (Elkin). LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 189 Opus 64. Etudes (Elkin): (i) Allegro. (ii) Allegro con Brio. 65. Song, "And so I made a Villanelle." 66. Sonata for Piano (Elkin). 67. Four pieces for Piano (Elkin) : (i) Mazurka. (ii) Serenata. (iii) Intermezzo. (iv) Soiree Japonaise. 68. Two Songs (Elkin) : (i) Daffodils. (ii) Osm^s Song. 69. Missing. 70. Two Songs (Elkin) : (i) My Lady Sleeps. (ii) Mirage. 71. Songs and Pieces (Elkin) : (i) Suite in the old style for Piano, Prelude, Sarabande and Minuet. (ii) Song, " Evening." (iii) Bergeronnette (Water- Wagtail) for Piano. 72. Four Songs (Elkin) : (i) A Spring Ditty. (ii) Arietta. (iii) The Trysting Tree. (iv) The Valley of Silence. 190 CYRIL SCOTT Opus 73. Three pieces for Violin and Piano (Schott) : (i) Elegy. (ii) Romance. (iii) Valse triste. 74. (a) Trois Dances Tristes for Violin and Piano (Schott) : (i) Danse elegiaque. (ii) Danse orientale. (iii) Danse langoureuse. (b) Valse Caprice for Piano. (c) Chansonette do. 75. Second Suite for Piano (Schott) : (i) Prelude. (ii) Air vane. (iii) Solemn Dance. (iv) Caprice and Fuga. (v) Introduction. 76. Missing. 77. Aubade for Orchestra (Schott). LATER WORKS WITHOUT OPUS NUMBERS VIOLIN AND PIANO Intermezzo (Elkin) (1910). Tallahassee Suite (Schott) (1911) : (i) Bygone Memories. (ii) After Sundown. (iii) Air et Danse negre. LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 191 Cherry Ripe (Schott) (1911). Deux Preludes (Schott) (1912). The Gentle Maiden (Schott) (1912). PIECES FOR PIANO WITHOUT OPUS NUMBERS An English Valse (Novello). First piece ever published. Then followed. Album of Six Pieces (Forsyth). Three Frivolous Pieces ,, Two Villanelles for Vocal Quartet with piano and viola accompaniment (unpublished). Over the Prairie (Two Impressions) (1911). Berceuse (Elkin) (1911). British Melodies (Elkin) : (i) All through the night. (ii) The wild hills of Clare. (iii) Sumer is icuw.cn in. Pierrette (Elkin) (1912). Impressions from the Jungle Book (Schott) (1912) : (i) The Jungle. (ii) Dawn. (iii) Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the Snake. (iv) Morning Song in the Jungle. (v) Dance of the Elephants. 192 CYRIL SCOTT Egypt (Schott) (1912) : (i) In the Temple of Memphis. (ii) By the Waters of the Nile. (iii) Egyptian Boat Song. (iv) Funeral March of the Great Raamses, (v) Song of the spirits of the Nile. Poems (Schott) (1912) : (i) Poppies. (ii) The Garden of Soul-Sympathy. (iii) Bells. (iv) The Twilight of the year. (v) Paradise-Birds. Pastoral Suite (Elkin) (1913) : (i) C our ante. (ii) Pastorale. (iii) Rigaudon. (iv) Rondo. (v) Passacaglia. Prelude Solennelle (Elkin) (1913). Cavatina , , , , Sea Marge (Elkin) (1914). Danse Romantique ,, ,, Diatonic Study ,, ,, Ode Hero'ique ,, ,, Russian Dance ,, (1915). Miniatures ,, ,, Irish Reel ,, ,, LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 193 Russian Suite (Air, Siberian Waltz, Dance) (Elkin) (1916). Requiescat (Elkin) (1917). Rondeau de Concert SONGS Love's Aftermath (Elkin) (1911). An Old Song ended ,, ,, Pierrot and the Moon Maiden ,, (1912). Sleep Song ,, ,, In the Valley ,, ,, Retrospect ,, (1913). Autumn Song ,, ,, Nocturne ,, Old Songs in New Guise ,, ,, (i) Where be going? (ii) Drink to me only with thine eyes. (iii) Sumer is icumen in. A Song of Arcady (Elkin) (1914). A u t umn y s Lute , , , , A Prayer ,, Evening Melody. ,, ,, Lilac Time. ,, ,, Meditation (1915) 194 CYRIL SCOTT Night Song (Elkin) (1915). Rain. Invocation. ,, ,, Tyrolese Evening Song (1916). Looking Back (Elkin) (1917). The Sands of Dee ,, ,, Requiem ,, ,, The Pilgrim Cranes , , , , The Little Bells of Sevilla Modern Finger Exercises ,, ,, FLUTE AND PIANO Scotch Pastoral on " Fe banfo a?ic? braes" (Hansen, Copenhagen). CELLO AND PIANO Pierrot amoureux (Schott). VOCAL QUARTET (Piano and Viola obligate) Two Villanelles (1911). VIOLA AND PIANO Fantasie (written for Mr. Lionel Tertis) Unpub- lished. LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 195 ORGAN TRANSCRIPTIONS- Six Pieces (transcribed by Arthur W. Pollitt) (Elkin) : (i) Vesperale. (ii) Alpine Sketch. (iii) Chansonette. (iv) A Song from the East. (v) Solitude. (vi) Berceuse. Six Pieces (transcribed by A. Eaglefield Hull) (Elkin) : (i) Ode Hero'ique. (ii) Over the Prairie. (iii) Diatonic Study. (iv) Cavatina. (v) Evening Idyll. (vi) Prelude Solennelle. APPENDIX II APPENDIX II LITERARY WORKS POETRY The Shadows of Silence and the Songs of Yesterday (Liverpool : Donald Fraser). The Grave of Eros and The Book of Mournful Melodies with Dreams from the East (Liverpool : Donald Fraser). The Voice of the Ancient (London : J. M. Watkins). The Vales of Unity (London : David Nutt). The Celestial Aftermath, A Springtide of the Heart, and Far-away Songs (London: Chatto Windus). Translations from the German of Stefan George, Flowers of Evil from the French of Baude- laire (London : Elkin Mathews). PROSE The Philosophy of Modernism (in its connection with music) (London : Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner&Co., Ltd.) Printed in Great Britain by Ebenezer Baylis ft Son, Trinity Works, Worcester, PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY Hull, Arthur Kaglei'ielci Cyril Scott. 2d ed.